Weather News: Third Round of Tornadoes Coming to the South

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Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared in the Weekly Weather Report, which is published every Monday. You can sign up here to receive them weekly and during major storms.



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With the threat of tornadoes returning, the thought makes us shake our heads. Not yet.

It’s not only the third week in a row with the potential for severe weather, but it’s also happening in the same places over and over again.

Does this come to mind because Round 1 caught our attention with the deadly EF-3 tornado hitting outside of New Orleans? Or is there more?

How to set up severe weather alerts on your phone

Often, weather systems follow patterns, so this potential for severe weather in the same areas may be more common than you think.

We contacted the storm forecast center and spoke with Bill Bunting, the forecast operations manager, about the storms returning to the same areas lately.

“There’s a pretty chaotic component to the atmosphere, but it sometimes goes into patterns where we see this repeatability. We’ve seen it in all seasons,” Bunting said. “Unfortunately over the past month, and certainly for the coming week, the threat of severe weather is going to be present again, in many of the same areas that have already seen enough severe weather in the past four weeks.”

He pointed out that the severe weather week after week has a strong connection to the placement of the jet stream, which creates the conditions for repetition.

“These types of weather typically feature strong southwesterly winds in the midlevels and strong southeasterly to southerly winds near the surface. This creates a natural environment for wind shear that is favorable for organized thunderstorms and tornadoes,” Bunting explained.

Additionally, Bunting mentioned that very humid air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, which has helped storms develop over the past few weeks, is what we will see again this week.

Find out how a thunderstorm produces a tornado

More heavy storms expected for the South

This week is shaping up to be a classic weather event.

“Gulf of Mexico moisture will begin to rise northward toward the southern states and converge with the cold front moving slowly across the southern plains,” the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) wrote. “This will cause showers and thunderstorms to expand steadily from the southern plains into the deep south over the next two days.”

“The line is expected to enter the area shortly after noon arriving in the Baton Rouge area around 4 p.m., New Orleans 7 p.m., Gulfport 9 p.m. and out of the area around midnight Wednesday evening through Thursday morning,” a said the office of the National Weather Service (NWS). in New Orleans.

The “enhanced” area includes Dallas, Shreveport and Jackson. However, even Baton Rouge, New Orleans, San Antonio and Houston could all see storms.

“Damaging gusts of wind, large to very large hail and tornadoes will all be possible,” the SPC pointed out in its discussion of Monday’s severe weather threat forecast.

On Tuesday, the threat moves east, but still includes some of the same cities as today. New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Jackson will still be under threat from severe weather on Tuesday, as the storms arrive overnight tonight through tomorrow.

But we will also add Montgomery, Savannah and Charleston, which will be under an “enhanced” level 3 out of 5 risk level for severe weather.

The National Weather Service (NWS) office in New Orleans was bold in its discussion of the forecast.

After two weeks of severe weather, they began by saying, “Bottom line ahead…strong to severe thunderstorms possible late Monday night and Tuesday morning.

They went on to say, “All severe weather modes are possible, with the threat of wind currently highlighted.” While the threat of wind will be the biggest threat, tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

“A band of damaging wind gusts and multiple tornadoes are possible,” SPC noted in its forecast discussion.

By Wednesday, a separate system will form bringing another round of storms south and extending the severe threat for a third day.

“A second system is developing on the heels of the first as an upper trough deepens sharply and scoops across the Central Plains and possibly the Deep South,” the NWS Atlanta office said.

Wednesday’s threat will again be a level 3 out of 5 “increased” risk of severe weather.

This threat zone encompasses more than 10 million people and includes Atlanta, Birmingham and Chattanooga.

On Thursday, the threat lessens as storms push back the east coast. While the system mainly brings storms to the south, we will still see rain on Thursday across much of the east coast.

Everywhere from Florida to New England there will be rain, so we may see some travel delays at some major airports on Wednesday, and again on Thursday, as this system moves.

“Right hodographs imply a threat primarily from wind for any severe storms that develop, but care will need to be taken to monitor this event as it enters the near term,” the NWS Atlanta office said.

Hodographs are diagrams that represent the change in wind direction and speed with height.

Bad weather will affect the Plains

It is impossible to say if this will be the last week for this region to be hit by heavy storms, or if there will be a fourth week.

“Unfortunately, there’s no real predictive skill, looking at March and saying what that portends for the rest of the season,” Bunting acknowledged. “We have seen cases in the past where the pattern changed abruptly. And while we can anticipate that, it’s hard to really predict the seasonal nature of it. »

When you look at the weather picture as a whole, we have a diminishing La Niña, “and that often results in a very active season,” Bunting confirmed.

La Niña is an ocean-atmospheric phenomenon where colder than normal sea surface temperatures occur in the eastern Pacific near the equator.

It is impacting weather patterns around the world, even leading to a more active storm season in the South.

“So there are a number of reasons to believe that the risk of severe storms is not going to diminish anytime soon,” Bunting said, adding, “We are entering the peak of the season.”

Sigh… Indeed, we are. Peak tornado season across the United States runs from April through June.

For the record book

While tornadoes can occur any month of the year, tornado season in the south specifically runs from March through May, so we’re just getting started.

During May and June, the tornado threat begins to move further to the southern plains including Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

If tornado season is already making your head spin, there’s a reason.

“No matter how you slice it, March 2022 will go down as one of the most active marches in recent memory,” Bunting said.

In fact, March set a record for the number of tornadoes.

It is the second year in a row that the country has suffered a record number of tornadoes in March, reinforcing a trend of more severe weather earlier in the year and raising questions among scientists, who have historically seen such a weather peak. April to early June.

You can find out more here.

The severe weather in the southeast is much more dangerous than other places, mainly because many storms hit overnight while people are sleeping and have no alerts on their phones.

Also, since the southeast can be quite hilly and full of trees, you can’t see tornadoes coming in like you can in the plains.

Learn more about why Southeast tornadoes are deadlier and why scientists are studying these storms more than ever here.

CNN meteorologist Haley Brink contributed to this article.

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