Mississippi is experiencing more tornadoes per year than it has in the past, according to National Weather Service statistics.
The most recent devastating tornado that swept through Mississippi was a March 24, EF-4 tornado that started in northern Issaquena County, killing 21 people and destroying much of Rolling Fork, parts of Silver City and downing trees and structures in the area.
On average, Mississippi experienced 33 tornadoes per year from 1950 through 2020. In the past five years, however, that average has increased to 86 tornadoes per year, according to the National Weather Service in Jackson.
Tornado season for Mississippi is between March and May, but the state also has a peak severe weather season around November, the National Weather Service in Jackson reports.
So far this year, Mississippi has experienced 16 tornadoes, including the March 24 EF-4 tornado, and that number is expected to rise by late November's severe weather peak.
Below is a breakdown of the number of confirmed tornadoes in Mississippi over the past five years, according to the weather service.
Tornadoes per year in Mississippi
2022, 118 tornadoes;
2021, 60 tornadoes;
2020, 82 tornadoes;
2019, 115 tornadoes; and
2018, 59 hit tornadoes
"The reason for Mississippi seeing more tornadoes now is due to the significant change in the climate and atmosphere," said Christopher Rainey, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson. "...Although the weather is constantly changing, it's hard to predict what will occur in the future specifically."
Weather service officials said all parts of the state are at risk of being hit by tornadoes, but officials could not pinpoint what areas in Mississippi are most likely to experience tornadoes. However, central Mississippi — including areas southeast of the Jackson metro area — is more likely to experience tornadoes than other parts of the state, officials said.
Torshel Storm Shelters, a construction company in Jackson that distributes and builds shelters, reports that sales have risen recently due to more frequent tornadoes in Mississippi.
⛈️A Marginal Risk of severe weather is possible Friday afternoon into Friday night (4/21).
🌬️Damaging winds and hail are possible
🌪️Tornadoes cannot be ruled out
🌧️Heavy rainfall could cause flash flooding
Turn around, don't drown!#mswx pic.twitter.com/kvn4DA9nLJ
— msema (@MSEMA) April 21, 2023
Sarah Espino, a spokesperson for the company, said the company typically sees a rise in sales at the beginning of the year, particularly for their above-ground units that are prefabricated standing structures a quarter-inch thick with steel and channel reinforcement.
"The channel reinforcements are for withstanding crushes or additional debris hitting the structures," Espino said. "Our shelters are also made to withstand the speed and impact of a bullet. The windows are made of polycarbonate with two air intakes for ventilation."
Espino said the company sells underground and above-ground shelters and that both can withstand tornadoes.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Climate change: Mississippi experiencing more tornadoes per year