Weather news: Round three of tornadoes coming to the South

But the fact that it’s not just the third week in a row with the potential for severe weather, it’s also happening in the same places over and over again.

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

We reached out to the Storm Prediction Center and spoke with Bill Bunting, the Chief of Forecast Operations, about storms that have returned to the same areas lately.

“The atmosphere has a fairly chaotic component to it, but occasionally it gets into patterns where we see this repeatability. We’ve seen it every season,” Bunting said. “Unfortunately, over the past month, and certainly over the next week, the threat of severe weather will again be present, in many of the same areas that have already seen enough severe weather in the last four weeks.”

He noted that severe weather week after week has a strong connection to the location of the jet stream, creating the conditions for a repeat.

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

Additionally, Bunting mentioned that very moist air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, which has helped storms develop in recent weeks, is once again what we will see this week.

Read about how a thunderstorm produces a tornado

storm timeline

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

“Gulf of Mexico moisture will begin to increase north toward the southern states and converge with the cold front moving slowly toward the southern plains,” the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) wrote. “This will lead to a steady spread of showers and thunderstorms from the Southern Plains into the Deep South over the next few days.”

The SPC highlighted an area that includes more than 10 million people for a 3 out of 5 risk level for severe weather today.

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

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

By Tuesday, the threat is moving east, but still includes some of the same cities as today. New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Jackson will continue to be under severe weather threat on Tuesday as storms arrive overnight tonight into tomorrow.

But we’ll also be adding places like Montgomery, Savannah and Charleston, which will be under a 3 out of 5 level of “enhanced” risk of severe weather.

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

After two weeks of severe weather, they began by saying, “In summary, strong to severe storms are possible Monday night and Tuesday morning.”

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

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

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

“A second system develops immediately after the first as an upper channel strongly deepens and burrows across the Central Plains and eventually into the Deep South,” the NWS Atlanta office said.

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

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

By Thursday, the threat diminishes, as the storms move away from the East Coast. While the system is bringing storms primarily to the south, we will still see rain Thursday across much of the East Coast.

Anywhere from Florida to New England, it will rain, so we could see some travel delays at some major airports on Wednesday and again on Thursday, as this system progresses.

“Straight hodographs pose a primarily wind-driven threat to 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 direction and speed of the wind with height.

When will the parade of storms end?

It is impossible to say if this will be the last week that this region will be affected by severe storms, or if there will be a fourth week.

“Unfortunately, there’s no real predictive ability to look at March and say what that portends for the rest of the season,” Bunting acknowledged. “We’ve seen cases in the past where the pattern has abruptly changed. And while we can look into the future with that, it’s hard to really predict the seasonal nature.”

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

La Niña is an oceanic-atmospheric phenomenon in which cooler than normal sea surface temperatures occur in the eastern Pacific near the equator.

It affects weather around the world, even resulting in a more active storm season in the South.

“So there are a number of reasons to think that the risk of severe storms is not going to go down any time soon,” Bunting stressed, adding: “We are approaching the peak of the season.”

Sigh… Indeed, we are. Peak tornado season across the US is April through June.

For the log books

While tornadoes can strike 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 into the southern plains, including places like Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

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

“No matter how you look at it, March 2022 is going to be one of the busiest 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 endured a record number of tornadoes in March, cementing a trend toward more severe weather earlier in the year and raising questions among scientists, who have historically seen peaks of such weather from April to early June.
You can read more about this here.
The severe weather in the Southeast is much more dangerous than in other places, mainly because many of the storms hit during the overnight hours while people are sleeping and don’t have alerts on their phones turned on.

Also, because the southeast can be quite hilly and heavily wooded, you can’t see the tornadoes coming like you can on the plains.

Read 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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