Tornado season could arrive earlier this year, forecaster says | Local


Tornado season could start earlier than normal in the United States this year, according to AccuWeather’s extreme weather forecast.

The weather forecasting company predicts there could be 120 to 170 tornadoes in March and 200 to 275 in April. These are well above the long-term averages of 80 and 155.

Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather’s senior meteorologist, said tornado activity in recent years has pushed further east from the traditional “Tornado Alley”, which encompasses a strip from the southern plains to the northern plains that includes central Texas, much of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, and small parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Iowa, and he expects this trend continues.

AccuWeather predicts that the highest risk of severe weather from March to May will extend from the eastern parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma to the northeast. Omaha sits at the western end of the highest risk zone, while Lincoln sits just outside in a more moderate risk zone.

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There was already a tornado outbreak in Iowa the first weekend in March that destroyed dozens of homes and killed seven people.

Pastelok said at this point it seems unlikely that the Lincoln area will experience significant severe weather in March.

“Mars right now is probably not very active for Lincoln,” he said.

But Pastelok said he thinks there will be “a lot more activity” in April.

That would be a big change from last year, when there were no statewide tornadoes in April, after just one in March.

While Pastelok predicts fewer tornadoes in May than average, he said those storms could be more concentrated in the Midwest.

Over the past 30 years, Nebraska has seen the bulk of its tornadoes in May and June, averaging about 30 total in those two months, more than the other 10 months combined.

One thing that could hamper severe weather is the drought that plagues much of the western half of the United States, including Nebraska, as dry conditions tend to hamper the development of storms.

Al Dutcher, associate climatologist for the state of Nebraska, said he thinks the odds are in favor of a stormy spring in the region, which has been lacking for the past two years.

He said he will monitor the next month and a half to see if the stormy weather continues in the southern United States. If so, he thinks Nebraska will have a better chance of a wetter spring.

Drought spreads across Nebraska, including Lancaster County

Drought itself is a severe weather condition worth watching this spring. Nearly all of Nebraska was in drought conditions Thursday, with nearly half of the state, including southern Lancaster County, in severe drought or worse.

While the rain and snow that fell Thursday night through Friday brought much needed moisture, including 0.68 inches officially in Lincoln, much more is needed to improve drought conditions.

That doesn’t seem likely, however. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in its spring forecast released Thursday, predicts that drought conditions will stay the same or worsen across the western half of the United States, including virtually all of Nebraska.

Drought conditions and warmer than normal conditions will increase wildfire risk across much of the Western and Central Plains, including Nebraska.

“This year, in addition to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, we need to be prepared for the dangers that could arise due to drought conditions affecting the state,” said Erv Portis, deputy director of the United States Emergency Management Agency. Nebraska.

Portis called the threat of wildfires a “major concern” this spring.

Dry winter continues in Lincoln, with little relief in sight

Drought spreads across Nebraska, including Lancaster County

Lincoln dodges another winter storm with season record least snowfall in sight

The Omaha World-Herald contributed to this report.

Contact the writer at 402-473-2647 or [email protected]

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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