Tornadoes are dangerous natural disasters that most commonly occur in the southern and central United States. They are much less common in New Jersey, with the state averaging around two each year. Most NJ twisters are relatively weak, short-lived, and travel from hundreds of yards to several miles. However, there have been nearly a dozen that have tracked more than ten miles. Some have caused significant injuries and, rarely, fatalities (only one fatality since 1950 but five in an 1835 New Brunswick tornado). The Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist has compiled a list that documents each tornado touchdown in New Jersey since 1950, along with the damage estimate, number of injuries/fatalities, tornado start/end points, and tornado intensity. These are available using the interactive map to the right or by downloading the Storm Events Data file directly below.
The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) maintains a national database that documents, among other hazards, tornado events that have been reported in the United States since 1950. This database provides the basis for the New Jersey list, with additional information obtained from National Weather Service storm survey statements and media reports, as needed.
Although the data on New Jersey tornadoes are considered accurate and as inclusive as possible, there is one important factor to consider: an apparent correlation between population density and the location of storm reports. For example, there are more tornado reports along the populated Garden State Parkway corridor, while there are not many reported around the sparsely populated Pinelands. This connection suggests that there may have been tornadoes in unpopulated areas that were not accounted for because no one actually saw and reported the tornado. This may also apply to other sparsely populated parts of the state, such as Cumberland and Salem counties.