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A Tornado Season on Steroids

April 9, 2012

The warm spring has created perfect conditions for tornado development.

Credit: NOAA
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Welcome to the extreme tornado season of 2012—a tornado season on steriods.

Have you seen the storm that tossed 18-wheelers around in Dallas? How about the eight (8!) tornadoes that roamed Michigan on March 15? Did you hear about the one that hit Hawaii and dropped a hailstone the size of a grapefruit?

Spring started early this year and so did the tornado season.

The nation’s first cyclone swirled around the Texas Big Bend country on January 9. By March 23, the tornado season was officially the busiest on record.

Scientists are pointing to the extremely warm weather we have had this year. The winter did not freeze the ground and the combination of warmer ground and warmer weather has a tendency to create the type of low-lying thunderstorms that are favorable for tornado development.

Click here for a large view of tornado trends.

In late March, the tornado season of 2012 was the busiest on record! SOURCE: NOAA

Other scientists are blaming this year’s La Niña for the busy season. Scientists have found some correlations between that cold pool of water in the Pacific and busier tornado seasons. The Pacific weather patterns shift global storm tracks and there is a tendency for tornado outbreaks to form further north and further east than normal. We have certainly seen this pattern this year—just ask Michigan!

With the fading of the La Niña, expect the storms to return to their normal haunt, Tornado Alley. This is the region in the Great Plains where cool air from Canada usually crashes into the wet air from the Gulf and thunderstorms blossom. We are already seeing this in the Southern Plains, with rain and storms returning to drought-stricken Texas.

So stay smart. Enjoy the blessed rains and stay away from those not-so-blessed tornadoes.

And if you see an interesting or crazy storm—share it here.

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Evelyn Browning Garriss, historical climatologist, is a longtime writer for The Old Farmer's Almanac. She is also editor of The Browning World Climate Bulletin and has advised farmers, businesses, and investors worldwide on upcoming climate events and their economic and social impact for the past 21 years.

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My aunt in Mississippi just

By als0729

My aunt in Mississippi just bought a tornado shelter, with all those storms down there now, she wanted to be prepared. She says she loves it and feels so much safer now. She said it was more comfy than she’d expected, too. It even has carpeting lol! She found them on this site www.survive-a-storm.com ... pretty neat :)

what affect will the cool

By sarah151

what affect will the cool summer have on the next winter season?

2012 is going to be quite a

By nora joyce

2012 is going to be quite a year. Its not an every year thing we hear about tornadoes touching down in Virginia and we had multiple tornadoes last year everywhere in the state, we are a mountainous state so we are pretty much safe from severe tornadoes but due to the incredibly warm March they wouldnt stop. I have a question that probably gets asked by you alot but what does all of this mean for summer? Im fine with heat but keep the severe weather away!! We had one storm that blew down our trees and hail that broke our storm door that had me praying for my life!

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