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Does Tennessee Have Tornadoes?

Tornados are dangerous and relentless acts of nature that can strike at any time of the year, especially during the warmer seasons.

They can occur in any state in the country, but there are some states that experience more tornadoes than others.

Does Tennessee have tornadoes?

Tennessee does have tornadoes because weather and storm conditions in the state are often ideal for tornado formation.

There are certain areas of Tennessee that are more prone to tornadoes than others. Knowing which Tennessean counties have the most tornadoes is the key to staying alert and safe when traveling.

Tornadoes are even more dangerous in Tennessee due to its dense population, which means the chance of injury or worse during a tornado is more likely than in other states.

The more you learn about tornadoes in Tennessee, the better prepared you will be when making travel or moving plans.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA

Is Tennessee Part of Tornado Alley?

Tennessee is not a part of Tornado Alley, despite the fact that many tornadoes spawn there every year.

Tornado Alley includes Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Missouri, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Some weather professionals also include Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and parts of Ohio in the mix. It is also important to know that several researchers believe that there is more than one Tornado Alley.

Many even refer to parts of the Tennessee Valley being in what they call Dixie Alley.

Each of these Tornado Alleys in various parts of the country lies where warm air meets cooler, dry air, which just happens to be the perfect recipe for tornadoes.

What Part of Tennessee Has the Least Tornadoes?

The eastern part of Tennessee has the least number of tornadoes each year. From the years 1950 to 2020, the eastern part of Tennessee recorded only 243 tornados.

In contrast, during the same span of years, western Tennessee had 381 tornados.

The central part of Tennessee recorded 638 tornados, more than double what occurred in eastern Tennessee during the same timeframe.

Tornado strikes the city

Where Do Most Tornadoes Occur in Tennessee?

The central portion of Tennessee has the most tornadoes in the state. This region produces a noticeably larger number of tornados annually in Tennessee than any other region.

Shelby County had the most tornadoes out of all the counties in Tennessee with 56 occurring between 1950 and 2021.

Wilson County comes in second with a total of 54 and in third, Davidson County had 53 tornadoes during the same timeframe.

It may be surprising to know that Shelby County is not located in the central portion of Tennessee and instead sits on the southwestern corner of the state.

Shelby County does sit closer to Tornado Alley, which explains the high number of tornadoes it sees each year.

Which Counties Have the Least Tornadoes in Tennessee?

While there are many counties in Tennessee that see a lot of tornadoes, there are several that rarely have any.

From 1950 to 2021, Campbell County had the least number of tornadoes in Tennessee with 1 during that entire time.

Unicoi, Union, and Hancock County all tie for second with only 2 tornadoes each during the same span of years. If you are looking for the most likely tornado-free areas in Tennessee, these counties are the answer.

County# of Tornados 1950 – 2021
Shelby County56
Tipton County23
Lauderdale County25
Dyer County31
Lake County10
Obion County27
Gibson County32
Crockett County12
Haywood County13
Fayette County24
Hardeman County17
Madison County32
Carroll County22
Weakley County26
Henry County15
Benton County21
Henderson County23
Chester County14
McNairy County18
Hardin County20
Decatur County9
Perry County14
Hickman County23
Dickson County20
Humphreys County26
Houston County11
Stewart County18
Montgomery County30
Cheatham County13
Davidson County53
Williamson County27
Maury County16
Lewis County13
Wayne County20
Lawrence County42
Giles County20
Marshall County17
Bedford County20
Rutherford County,42
Wilson County54
Robertson County28
Sumner County51
Trousdale County15
Macon County14
Smith County16
DeKalb County13
Cannon County12
Coffee County29
Moore County13
Lincoln County37
Franklin County29
Marion County20
Hamilton County25
Bradley County26
Polk County14
Grundy County9
Sequatchie County10
Bledsoe County8
Buren County3
Warren County21
White County20
Putnam County20
Jackson County11
Overton County16
Clay County4
Pickett County7
Fentress County19
Cumberland County23
Rhea County4
Meigs County3
McMinn County23
Monroe County18
Roane County5
Loudon County8
Blount County14
Morgan County6
Anderson County5
Knox County15
Sevier County3
Claiborne County10
Campbell County1
Union County2
Grainger County3
Hamblen County3
Greene County11
Unicoi County2
Jefferson County8
Cocke County7
Claiborne County10
Hancock County2
Hawkins County3
Washington County9
Sullivan County4
Carter County4
Johnson County3

When is Tornado Season in Tennessee?

There are two tornado seasons in Tennessee that locals must stay vigilant for. The first occurs between March and May, increasing as temperatures get warmer.

Tornado hits the sea near the city

The second tornado season in Tennessee occurs in November.

Tornados can occur at any time of the year; however, they are far more likely to occur during one of two tornado seasons in Tennessee.

How Many Tornadoes Does Tennessee Get Each Year?

The number of annual tornadoes in Tennessee seems to vary each year and the difference can be shocking. 

In 2022, Tennessee only reported 5 tornadoes, which was the lowest, and in 2021, the state had 67 tornadoes.

Between 1995 and 2020, Tennessee averaged 30 tornadoes per year with 17 of those occurring in its central region.

Memphis, Tennesse, USA downtown cityscape at dusk over Beale Street

Does Memphis get Tornadoes?

Memphis does get tornadoes, and as a part of Shelby County, the possibility of a tornado is high. Since 1950, there have been at least 121 tornados in Memphis, and the city averages 2 tornadoes each year.

Tornadoes can occur any time of the year in Memphis as the severe thunderstorms that produce them happen all through the year.

It is important to remember that tornadoes are possible in Memphis whenever you visit the area.

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Downtown Skyline Aerial

Does Knoxville Get Tornados?

Knoxville is in Knox County and the city does see tornadoes from time to time.

Between 1950 and 2021, Knox County had 15 tornadoes, so it is possible that a future one could occur in Knoxville if the conditions were right.

While the area is not known for seeing a high number of tornadoes, it does not mean that locals will never see one in Knoxville. In the right weather conditions, a tornado can develop in the most unlikely areas.

nashville tennessee downtown

Does Nashville Get Tornados?

Nashville does get tornadoes as it is part of Davidson County, which saw a shocking 53 tornados from 1950-2021.

Nashville sits in the central part of Tennessee, the region that sees the most tornadoes in the state.

In 2020, Nashville experienced an EF3 tornado that destroyed the area and five people died as a result.

While every tornado in the area does not lead to fatalities, it is important to remember the true dangers of every reported tornado.  

Final Thoughts

Tornadoes do occur often in Tennessee, and it is important for tourists and locals alike to stay vigilant during all severe storms.

The middle portion of the state does have more tornadoes annually than other regions, although a tornado could develop in any part of Tennessee in the right conditions.

Tornadoes can pop up at any time of the year in Tennessee, although they are more prevalent in the spring and early summer, as well as in November.


There is far more to learn about Tennessee and its penchant for tornadoes than I ever imagined. I used the following articles to write this article.