At least 23 people died.

Georgia weather: Which counties have recorded the most tornadoes?

MARCH 4 UPDATE: Governor Brian Kemp’s office said he will declare emergencies in Grady, Harris and Talbot counties, and that more could be added as emergency officials report back. The declarations free up state resources to respond to the disaster. 

The March 3 storms killed at least 23 people in eastern Alabama and left a widespread trail of damage and destruction that also injured more than 40 people across Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Georgia recorded 21 tornadoes in 2018. The state that recorded the most tornadoes through Nov. 2, 2018? Iowa, with 84. Louisiana, reporting 69 tornadoes to that date, is second nationally. Mississippi is third with 54 tornadoes.

Fulton is Georgia’s top tornado-prone county with the October 10 EF0 tornado near Atlanta’s Sylvan Hills neighborhood marking the 34th tornado to hit the area since 1950. The next two most twister-prone counties -- Worth and Colquitt -- have logged 33 and 32 tornadoes respectively over the past 69-plus years. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along with AJC staff research, since 1950, Chatham and Cobb, with 31 tornadoes each, are tied for 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. Bartow and Cherokee, north of Atlanta, have respectively seen 26 and 28 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. 31 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.)

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