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Georgia weather: Which counties have recorded the most tornadoes?

WSB Meteorologist Kirk Mellish explains what a tornado sounds like, and what to look out for.

As spring and warmer days draw near, the Peach State starts preparing for picnics, vacations, the end of the school year. And, of course, tornadoes.

Georgia recorded 60 tornadoes in 2019. The state that recorded the most tornadoes in 2019? Texas, with 188. Mississippi, reporting 138 tornadoes for the year, is second nationally. Kansas is third with 127 tornadoes.

Fulton and Worth are Georgia's top tornado-prone counties, each having 35 tornadoes logged since 1950. The next two most twister-prone counties -- Chatham and Colquitt -- have logged 32 and 30 tornadoes respectively over the past 70 years. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along with AJC staff research, Cobb, with 28 tornadoes since 1950, comes in at third place among Georgia's 159 counties in total tornadoes recorded.

Take a look at the map below, detailing NOAA's count of every tornado recorded in Georgia since 1950, and see how many twisters have hit the state to date. This map is updated whenever a confirmed tornado is recorded by the National Weather Service.

Tornado totals are fairly high in counties considered part of the greater metro Atlanta area. Cherokee and Hall, north of Atlanta, have each seen 25 tornadoes since 1950.

If you live in West and deep Southwest Georgia, you’re likely to experience a tornado at some point. But if you make your home in East Georgia, there’s much less reason to worry. Want to pretty much never see a tornado? Move to Taliaferro County, which has no recorded tornadoes (yet).

Another tornado hotbed? The Savannah area. 32 tornadoes have hit Chatham County since 1950.

HOW ARE TORNADOES RATED?

The National Weather Service rates tornadoes by the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF), named for the creator of the original Fujita Scale, Ted Fujita. Here are the EF ratings from lowest to highest:

  • EF 0: Winds estimated at 65-85 mph (usually light damage, including damage to gutters and siding)
  • EF 1: 86-110 mph (moderate damage, including broken windows, severely stripped roofs, severe damage to mobile homes)
  • EF 2: 111-135 mph (considerable damage, including roofs torn off homes, complete destruction of mobile homes, large trees uprooted.)
  • EF 3: 136-165 mph (severe damage, including damage to large buildings, debarked trees.)
  • EF 4: 166-200 mph (devastating damage, including the leveling of some well-constructed homes.)
  • EF 5: Greater than 200 mph (incredible damage, including homes swept off their foundations and significant damage to high rises.)