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Which Season Has The Wildest Weather?

It's a fact that the U.S. has the world's wildest weather extremes, but why does the spring season see the worst of it?

The United States is famous for its crazy weather. Nowhere else on Earth will you find such a diverse mixture of events, year-round. We’ve got it all—from blizzard conditions to heatwaves, tornadoes, hurricanes and derechos, floods and wildfires, extreme droughts and torrential rainfall. Some parts of the country are just unlucky enough to experience most or all of these catastrophic weather events as the seasons change and years go by.

All of this begs the question: When do we see the wildest in the United States? Doubtless people from around the country will have their own opinions based on the types of extreme weather they experience most often. But with all the data out there about extreme weather events, we feel it’s safe to say that nationwide, there will be one season that outstrips the others!

Extreme Weather Statistics

One indicator of extreme weather is the average number of fatalities caused each year by various types of weather. Take a look at these statistics from The National Weather Service:

  • Heatwaves top the charts as the deadliest weather, claiming 130 lives per year on average.
  • Floods claim an average of 81 victims per year.
  • Tornados cause an average of 70 fatalities per year.
  • Lightning and hurricanes are nearly tied with lightning causing an average of 48 fatalities and hurricanes causing 46.

You might think that perhaps summer is the craziest season nationwide — especially since heatwaves aren’t limited to the southern portions of the nation, as evidenced by the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, a 5-day span in July that became one of the most famous heatwaves in history.

But heatwaves are only a small part of the picture. The following data is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and shows the number of weather events that caused more than a billion dollars’ worth of damage, by month, across the nation between 1980 and March 2017. It includes weather events of all kinds (thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, cold snaps, etc.):

Grid-weather
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2017).

It’s easy to see that spring, between March and June, are the wildest months — particularly for people in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, which are listed among Sperling’s riskiest places to live.

Crazy spring weather isn’t limited to these states, however. It’s a volatile time of year as we move between winter and summer which means that weird spring weather can happen just about anywhere.

Spring Really Is Wild!

When spring rolls around, you can expect the unexpected. This is when tornado season is just getting started in the South and Midwest, and with tornadoes come thunderstorms, hail, lightning and even the possibility for a derecho, or extreme high wind event. All throughout the country, you can expect late spring freezes and even blizzards, which cause billions of dollars in crop loss and sometimes even property damage. Toward the end of spring, some areas may see early heatwaves, and if you live along the Gulf Coast or in the southeast, you may even experience an early hurricane or tropical storm. Spring is also the time when floods are most common.

Watch these crazy spring storms with large hail in Texas!

What do you think? Is spring the wildest time of the year in your neck of the woods, or do other seasons present larger challenges for you? Share your comments below.

Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental and green living topics. Her article on woolly worm caterpillar folklore appears in the 2020 Farmers' Almanac.

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Dixie Lynn

I would agree that Spring is definitely the wildest. Mainly because of it’s unpredictability. All kinds of things are possible: hot to cold, flowers then snow, lightning and hail, and don’t forget the stroooong winds! Why just last night we had such horrible winds a tree fell on a main power line.

Kristin

Spring, definately. It goes from a sunny 80’s one day to 50-60’s the next with a thunderstorm lasting all day. Occassionally we’ll hit upon a 75 degree non-windy sunny-all-day one & I love those. Thank heavens for the sun making the Real-Feel Temperature be higher that the actual temperature or it might as well still be winter around ARkansas rather than spring most of this year.

jaywalk

in our neck of the woods … late summer most definitely … wild land fires – most caused by lightening strikes … other wise we have pretty much stable seasonal weather … there are years that are worse than others … this winter was the worst seen in over 35 years with severe ice dam build up.

Amy

I live at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and Spring is definitely our most volatile time for weather events. To sum up our weather would be to say it is a roller coaster with it’s ups and downs….cold spells, record setting high temps, high wind, flooding, hail, severe thunderstorms and sunshine. In fact in East Tennessee there is a saying…”If you don’t like the weather, just stick around because it will change.”

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