An extremely active May for tornadoes, but not in RI


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — So far it has been a wild year for tornadoes across the country.

As of Wednesday morning, the Storm Prediction Center website listed 935 preliminary tornado reports this year nationwide, with 442 of those reports happening in the month of May.

It’s a different story in Rhode Island, where no tornadoes have been reported so far this year. The last tornado in Rhode Island was in October 2018, which touched down in Lincoln and North Providence.

That tornado was the 12th confirmed tornado in Rhode Island since 1950. 

There are many factors behind the absence of tornadoes this year.

The most important factor is that Rhode Island does not get that many tornadoes in general. In addition, the warm and humid air masses that are often a key ingredient in tornado formation have not been very common in Southern New England this year.

Finally, even on hot, humid days with strong storms approaching from the west, Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean can offer some protection.

“I think the main reason is the marine influence that in other words, water has a cooling effect, and the air coming over the water into Rhode Island, tends to weaken the storms,” Glenn Field from the National Weather Service in Norton Massachusetts said.

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