When do tornadoes typically occur? What to know about when the storms strike

Born from thunderstormstornadoes can cause immense devastation, ripping apart homes and tossing cars like toys.

Tornadoes can happen any time of the year, but there are distinct seasons for twisters in different parts of the country, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center (SPC).

On average, around 1,200 tornadoes are reported in the U.S. every year, more than any country in the world.

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So when must you be prepared for the storms?

"Peak tornado" season hits the South in March and ends around May, the Virginia Department of Transportation says on its website. The severe weather pattern usually makes its way north, with the majority of tornadoes hitting northern states over the summer.

Damage after the tornado tore through Nashville, as seen from a Metro Nashville Police Department police helicopter on March 3, 2020.

Damage after the tornado tore through Nashville, as seen from a Metro Nashville Police Department police helicopter on March 3, 2020. (Metro Nashville Police Department)

However, tornadoes tend to hit the Gulf Coast earlier during the spring, NOAA explains on its website.

"But, remember, tornadoes can happen at any time of year. Tornadoes can also happen at any time of day or night, but most tornadoes occur between 4 to 9 p.m.," the NOAA warns.

Tornadoes are more likely to pop up around the spring and fall, "when warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico pushes into a colder air mass from Canada," according to Fox News' Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean.

"Large thunderstorms often form when these air masses collide and a whirling, rotating funnel-shaped column of air can form inside these storms and then connect with the ground," Dean said.

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According to NOAA, some parts of the world are much more prone to tornadoes than others. The middle latitudes, particularly between about 30 degrees and 50 degrees North or South, provide the most favorable environment for "tornadogenesis."

The average number of tornadoes in each state in the U.S.

The average number of tornadoes in each state in the U.S. (NOAA)

"This is the region where cold, polar air meets against warmer, subtropical air, often generating convective precipitation along the collision boundaries," according to the agency. "In addition, air in the midlatitudes often flows at different speeds and directions at different levels of the troposphere, facilitating the development of rotation within a storm cell."

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On average, tornadoes kill about 60 people per year, mostly from flying or falling debris. But the actual number can vary from single digits to hundreds, according to the SPC.

Fox News' Madeline Farber contributed to this report.