NEW YORK -- Following a relatively quiet January and February in the severe weather department, March kicked the door wide open to start the nation's severe season.
The U.S. tallied 1,382 reports of severe weather (which includes tornadoes, damaging wind, and/or large hail) in March, which is above the long-term average of just over 1,200.
About a third of all days this month saw above-average severe weather activity, with five of those days ending with more than 100 storm reports. The most active day was the 30th, which saw 247 reports of severe weather, including an impressive 197 reports of damaging wind alone.
Tornado and wind reports, which were previously lagging well behind average on the year, have now surged to above-average following this wild March. Hail remains the only metric to stay below the long-term average.
A record-breaking 249 reports of tornadoes were made in March, besting the 225 counts in March 2012. This is more than 2.5 times the March average.
Sixteen different states had at least one tornado report.
The strongest tornado in March also stands as the strongest tornado of the year thus far. The EF-4 twister struck in the Des Moines metro area on March 5, killing six and causing widespread damage, including downed trees and flipped cars.
This is the strongest March tornado since last year's EF-4 that struck Newnan, Georgia.
We've seen 317 reports of tornadoes across 20 states in the year. Texas leads the pack with 68, followed by Mississippi with 59 and Alabama with 49. Those 317 reports are well above the long-term average to date of 207.
(It's important to note that tornado reports are not equivalent to confirmed tornadoes. If we look specifically at confirmed tornadoes, March 2022 comes in with 166. That makes 2022 the 5th most tornadic March.)
Wind Damage Counts:
Over 900 reports of damaging wind were made this past March, crushing the long-term average of roughly 400. This rockets our year-to-date tally to over 1,000 reports and brings us slightly above average year to date.
Mississippi leads the U.S. with 127 reports, followed by Pennsylvania (113) and Alabama (95).
The strongest gust reported to the Storm Prediction Center was an 86 mph gust out of Waves, North Carolina, on March 12.
March tallied 147 reports of hail, accounting for 80% of the total hail reports we've seen so far this year.
To no surprise, Texas, the king of hail, leads the U.S. with 68 total reports.
But with just 185 reports of hail on the year, the U.S. remains well below the long-term average of just over 600. The largest hail recorded this past month was baseball-sized hail out of Iowa, where multiple reports were made of damage to cars and, unfortunately, a handful of deaths to migratory birds.
Flash Flooding Counts:
There were 110 reports of flash flooding in March, making it the busiest month for flash flooding yet. But that is still below average, both on the month and year. The total annual count of 155 so far in 2022 is just 32% of normal.
Alabama leads the U.S. in total flash flood reports with 78, which is apparent by the 8+ inch year-to-date rainfall surplus in a handful of locations across the northern portion of the state.