As expected, May was certainly a busy month for severe weather in the United States. Each day of the month had at least 20 severe weather reports across the nation, and 13 dates experienced above-average severe weather activity.
For the entire month, the National Weather Service received 4,360 severe weather reports – about 15% above the average of 3,782.
The most active day was on May 12 during a nearly record-setting derecho that slammed parts of the Great Plains and Midwest with damaging winds spread across hundreds of miles. The 420 severe weather reports rank as the most active day in 2022 so far.
Five days had more than double the daily average of 122 severe weather reports.
Hundreds of tornado reports, but still below average
The National Weather Service received 206 tornado reports, which is below the average of 275.
But what the month was lacking in number, it made up in geographical spread. Tornado reports covered 31 states in May, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho and New Hampshire – states that rarely see tornadoes. For New Hampshire, it was just the 12th May tornado since 1950. Minnesota was the surprise leader in tornado reports at 42.
The busiest day for tornadoes was during the derecho on the 12th. There were 32 reported tornadoes, ranking as the 7th busiest tornado day of 2022 so far.
While the Lockett and Goodwin tornadoes were both in rather rural areas, the Gaylord tornado hit a more populated location in North Central Michigan. It is Michigan's first EF3 (or stronger) tornado since 2012 and the first tornado to hit Gaylord since records started in 1950. The tornado is responsible for killing two people and ijuring 44 others.
Despite the rash of northern tornadoes in May, the South still leads the U.S. with tornadoes so far in 2022. Mississippi remains the national leader with 111 tornadoes this year, followed by Texas with 103 and Alabama with 80. The 810 total reports so far this year is just above the long-term average of 770.
107 mph wind gust tops stormy month
May is leading the way for number of damaging wind reports at 2,796, making it the busiest month for damaging wind so far this year – fueled largely by the May 12 derecho.
May 12 joins the 6th and 21st as three of the top five severe wind activity days of the year. The 12th's 311 reports are the most for 2022 so far. That includes a handful of wind gusts over 100 mph including a 107-mph gust registered by a road sensor in Tripp, South Dakota.
Once again, despite the northern storms, the South still leads the way for severe wind reports after their stormy March and April. Over 4,000 reports of damaging wind have been made in 2022 with Mississippi leading the U.S. with 348. North Carolina (307) and Virginia (265) round out the top three.
May now ranks as the busiest month of 2022 for large hail reports at 1,253. But that still leaves the year about 1,000 reports below average for the year.
Don't tell that to the folks under a barrage of hail in Okemah, Oklahoma where hail about 4.5 inches in diameter – the size of grapefruits! - was observed.
Quiet on the Flash Flood front so far…
The 217 reports of flash flooding made in May were less than half of what we would expect in a typical month, which is over 500.
With 2022 still lacking a large, widespread, flash flooding event, storm reports continue to lag behind the year-to-date average.
Unlike other types of severe weather, flash flooding can strike anytime of the year, and it will only take one prolific, high population event to catch up.
Thankfully that has not happened yet and the year continues to be quiet(er) on the flash flooding front. So far this year we've seen 647 reports of flash flooding made.
The average through May is just over 1,000.