Discover the California Town Most Likely to Be Hit by a Tornado

Fountain Valley, California
© Arne Beruldsen/

Written by Niccoy Walker

Updated: June 20, 2023

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California is well known for its earthquake activity, as it is lies on active fault lines. But what about tornadoes? Tornadoes are often most associated with the Midwest, but that doesn’t mean they don’t occur in other parts of the country. In fact, tornadoes along the west coast are not as rare as you might think. And they have even occurred in the middle of busy cities. But where do they happen the most? And are they common? Discover the California town most likely to be hit by a tornado and learn how wildlife in the area is impacted by these twisters.

What is the California Town Most Likely to Be Hit by a Tornado?

Fountain Valley, California

The California town most likely to be hit by a tornado is Fountain Valley.

©Arne Beruldsen/

Fountain Valley is the California town most likely to be hit by a tornado. Fountain Valley has a tornado index score of 56.06, which is higher than the California average. However, it is much lower than the national average. California, as a whole, is one of the states least likely to see a tornado, coming in at number 42 out of 50. The only states with a lower chance of experiencing a tornado are New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, and Alaska.

Let’s compare Fountain Valley to high-risk tornado areas to see how they stack up. Fountain Valley has a tornado index score on par with New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and New York. But when comparing the town to states like Oklahoma and Mississippi, they fall way below. And if you wanted to compare Fountain Valley to a city in Oklahoma, they most closely resemble Kenton, Oklahoma (50.07 index score), which has the lowest index score for tornadoes in the state. For reference, the town in the United States with the highest likelihood of tornadoes is Valley Brooke, with an index score of 696.05.

Fountain ValleyCaliforniaUnited States
Tornado Index56.0618.56136.45

About Fountain Valley, California

Fountain Valley is located in Orange County, just north of Huntington Beach and south of Anaheim. It’s considered a suburban city and became incorporated in 1957. The city has a total of nine square miles and a total population of 57,047. Fountain Valley is a popular suburban area for families and offers plenty of recreational opportunities. Its city motto is “A Nice Place to Live.”

How Bad Are the Tornadoes in Fountain Valley, California?

Tornado damage California

The town of Fountain Valley has a relatively low risk of tornadoes when compared to other parts of the country.

©Ringo Chiu/

Fountain Valley has a low risk of tornadoes overall. And there have been a total of seven historical tornadoes in or around the town since 1950. A historical tornado is one whose magnitude is two or greater. Of the seven significant tornadoes in Fountain Valley, all of them were a magnitude two, and none had any fatalities. However, the tornado in March 1983 caused 30 injuries and resulted in 25 million dollars’ worth of damage. The most recent tornado in the area happened on May 22, 2008, when an F2 traveled three miles, injuring one person and causing $350,000 in damages.

Is California at High Risk for Tornadoes?

Relative to the national average, California has a low risk for tornadoes. However, they are not as rare as you might think. Twisters can touch down in most seasons, and the state averages about seven tornadoes per year. However, most are not significant. And California is not known for having tornadoes stronger than an F3. California’s peak tornado season occurs from January through April. Its season ends typically when the country’s peak season begins. Peak tornado season in the United States is from April to June.

How Common Are Tornadoes in California?

California gets around seven tornadoes on average per year. And it has had at least 469 tornadoes since 1951. While twisters are pretty rare for the state, they do happen. During the early spring and fall, California’s Central Valley can see several minor tornadoes. While they can cause damage and injuries, they are often on the smaller side and don’t last long. The tornado in 1983 that hit Fountain Valley and surrounding areas was California’s worst on record. The F2 injured 30 people and caused several million in damages.

Tornado warning sign against a powerful stormy background with copy space. Dirty and angled sign with cyclonic winds add to the drama.

California gets an average of seven tornadoes per year.

©Conceptual Art/

Wildlife Around Fountain Valley: How Do Tornadoes Impact Them?

The Central Valley was once a lush haven for wildlife. But urbanization has significantly impacted the local animals you might encounter. This area is considered a temperate grassland and can still attract many species with a preference for this habitat. 

Here are some animals you might encounter around Fountain Valley:

  • Deer
  • Kangaroo rats
  • Gophers
  • Rabbits
  • San Joaquin kit fox
  • Woodpeckers
  • Yellow-billed magpies
  • Tricolored blackbirds
  • Lizards
  • Snakes 
  • Coyotes

Tornadoes can affect animals just like they affect humans. Not only can species be killed during active tornadoes, but they can also lose their homes and become displaced. These natural disasters can contaminate their drinking supply and disrupt the food chain.

Where is Fountain Valley Located on a Map?

Fountain Valley, located in Orange County, California, is a suburban city with a population of 57,047 according to the 2020 census.

Here is Fountain Valley on a map:

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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