Fox News Weather Center

Tornado Numbers Struggle to Reach Average

The number of tornadoes so far this spring has been well below average. The threat of these dangerous storms looks to stay minimal until the coming weekend.

Why the Below-Average Numbers

As many people noticed over the past few days, temperatures have been lower than average across much of the Plains and Midwest in May.

The cooler air over this broad area is helping to hold back the number of tornadoes thus far this year.

According to Senior Vice President of Accuweather Enterprise Solutions and Severe Weather Expert Mike Smith, "we have been 'a month behind' on temperatures this spring."

But Smith comments that the lack of moisture has also played a role.

"Cold fronts moving across the Gulf of Mexico sweep away the moisture needed to create thunderstorms," was one comment Smith made to explain why tornado development has been so limited thus far this spring.

Severe Potential for the Weekend

These conditions are expected to break down slightly this weekend when threats of severe weather and tornadoes have the potential to return to the Plains.

The greatest risk area, according to Smith, this weekend is South Dakota, Kansas Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and parts of Illinois and far northern Texas.

There is definitely a potential for severe weather with storms in these areas, including large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes.

At this time, it looks like the storms will likely wait until the late afternoon or evening to really fire up.

The storm is expected to come into the area at a particular angle that meteorologist refer to as a negative tilt.

In a video, Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity commented that these sort of storms "are notorious for producing some pretty nasty weather."

Tornado Statistics and Outlook

Through the May 7 this year, preliminary data indicated that an estimated 237 tornadoes.

This number is much below average, seeing as the tornado count as of May 7, 2012, was up to 659.

However, over the next 30-45 days, Smith says he expects to see "normal or even above-normal tornado numbers for the time of year."