A confirmed tornado in the Monkton area Friday was Maryland’s second tornado of 2019, matching the state’s tornado count for all of 2018.
But that doesn’t indicate a spate of tornadoes — Maryland has actually seen a relative lull in tornadoes in recent years.
The northeastern Baltimore County cyclone was the second in the state in a month, following one in Dorchester County on April 15, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.
There have been precisely two tornadoes in Maryland in three of the past five years, and otherwise no more than four of them in recent years.
But on average, the state sees about 10 tornadoes annually, according to the center.
Its data shows Maryland hasn’t seen so much severe weather activity since 2013.
That year was a third straight in which the state’s tornado count reached double digits, with 17 tornadoes in 2012 and 18 in 2011.
Few think of Maryland as a tornado state, but it actually ranks third in the country for its average density of cyclones, behind Florida and Kansas.
According to the National Climatic Data Center, Maryland sees about 10 tornadoes per 10,000 square miles each year (the state is just 12,407 square miles across). Over the same area, Florida and Kansas each see about 12 cyclones annually.
Most tornadoes in Maryland are relatively weak, while states such as Kansas more frequently see strong to violent cyclones.
The data center notes that tornado records rely on witnesses who report sightings or damage needed to confirm cyclones. That means it’s difficult to determine long-term changes in tornado frequency or severity. Tornado observation has improved in recent years, leading to larger numbers of reported weak tornadoes.