This Spring has been a rainy one so far for Kaufman County and while Northeast Texas certainly got another soaking last week, of greater concern was the EF-2 tornado that touched down in the southern part of the county last Wednesday afternoon affecting residents in both Kemp and Mabank.
EF-2 tornadoes are stronger than most tropical storms and has the potential to uproot trees and significantly damage homes. While Kaufman County was lucky that the tornado touched down in a mostly rural area dampening its impact, Kaufman County Sheriff Bryan Beavers still says that the storm took out around 50 sizable trees and damaged over a dozen homes, partially destroying a handful of them. Remarkably, only one man was injured and was subsequently treated and released.
The Kaufman tornado was just one of five that hit northeast Texas in a single day, and was the strongest of the five. And while five tornadoes in a single day sounds excessive, it could have been even worse; dozens of funnel clouds that didn't reach the ground were spotted and reported by northeast Texas residents.
This spat of storms falls in line for what has become typical for tornado season so far this year. As of press time Tuesday, 935 tornadoes had touched down across the United States with well over 100 of those accounted for in Texas. From May 18 to May 29 alone, there were an average of 27.5 tornadoes per day.
While climatologists have observed that the annual number of tornadoes across the country has largely remained stable since the 1950s, they have noted that tornadoes per outbreak are increasing. And while climate change can certainly account for some of the blame, the fact that the storms are changing their behavior without increasing in number has scientists scratching their heads.
"We're not 100 percent sure what's causing that," Northern Illinois University climatologist Victor Gensini said. "There are theories that for any given outbreak, there's more instability or fuel available for storms, but it's really difficult to know."
One thing is for certain, though; at least so far, 2019 has seen one of the more active starts to tornado season on record. Last year at this time, only around 700 tornadoes had been confirmed. So far this year, we're over that number by the hundreds.