Fewer tornadoes striking this season; harsh cold winter temperatures the reason

Severe weather season has been slow to start. That’s why we haven’t seen many tornadoes this year.

With the exception of one outbreak in January and a few more in February and March, this Spring has been noticeably quiet.

So far this year, the United States has seen just more than 100 tornadoes. That’s significantly fewer tornadoes than the last nine years, with the exception of 2010, when we hadn’t even cracked 100 tornadoes at this point.


A typical tornado season would be seeing closer to 400 tornadoes at this point in the year.


So why haven’t we seen much activity?

It all goes back to the harsh winter. Most tornadoes in the U.S. occur east of the Rocky Mountains. That’s also the same area that saw a bitter cold, snowy winter to remember.

All of that snow has prevented the already cold temperatures from warming up and creating the instability needed for thunderstorms and tornadoes to form. The only exception here happens to be Florida, which managed to dodge most of the bitter cold from the winter.

At this point in time, CAPE, a measure of instability in the atmosphere, is usually building along the Gulf Coast from southern Texas to Florida and as far north as parts of Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, and western Tennessee.


This year has been different. That same measure of instability has only built in parts of Texas and Florida. In 2008, a particularly busy year for tornadoes, CAPE was reaching parts of southern Wisconsin.

So while the cold weather and snow may have been a bear over the winter, it’s actually working to everyone’s advantage who lives in areas prone to tornadoes.

Follow Storm Shield Meteorologist Jason Meyers via the Storm Shield app on twitter, @StormShieldApp and Facebook. Download the Storm Shield Weather Radio App for your iPhone or Android device and get severe weather alerts wherever you are.

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