Tornado Season Coming Soon

February 24, 2012; 10:35 AM
Share |
A large tornado south of Dimmitt, Texas, on June 2, 1995. Photo from NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).

The tornado frequency increases in the spring as the warm and cold seasons battle it out in the U.S.

Warm, humid air surges into the South during the spring months, while colder air remains in place across the northern tier of the country. The clash of warm, humid air and cooler, drier air to the north creates instability for thunderstorms to develop.

Another key ingredient for severe thunderstorm and tornado development is a powerful jet stream, or a corridor of fast winds around the altitude where planes fly. When there are powerful winds high in the atmosphere and weaker winds at the surface, a twisting motion in the atmosphere can help to produce rotating thunderstorms capable of spawning tornadoes.

RELATED:

Above-Normal Tornadoes Expected in 2012

A Terrifying Year of Tornadoes, in Videos

Important Tornado Safety Tips to Follow

During the spring months, the jet stream is often still potent across the U.S. before it shifts too far to the north during the summer to support violent storms with tornadoes touching down.

The sun's rays are also strengthening during the spring months, promoting increased daytime heating that further reduces the instability of the atmosphere.

Comments

Comments left here should adhere to the AccuWeather.com Community Guidelines. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News

  • Sharknado 2: Three Actual Weather Events Nearly as Wild

    July 31, 2014; 2:02 PM ET

    “Sharknado” fans who live in fear of a shark-filled tornado can rest easy, the idea still remains completely implausible. However, the weather has been known to cause several head-scratching events, ranging from seemingly apocalyptic to downright bizarre.

Daily U.S. Extremes

past 24 hours

  Extreme Location
High N/A
Low N/A
Precip N/A

WeatherWhys®

This Day In Weather History

Baker, FL (1949)
(East of Crestview, FL) Lightning struck a baseball diamond, digging a ditch 20 feet long in the infield, killing the shortstop, third baseman and injuring 50 people in a crowd of 300.

Estes Park, CO (1976)
Big Thompson River flood disaster; up to 10" of thunderstorm rains funneled into narrow canyon near Estes Park. 139 drowned, 5 missing, $35.5 million estimated damage.

U.S. (1984)
1,178 "reported" tornadoes with 120 killed so far this year. Number of "actual" tornadoes probably less, but this is still one of the most active years ever (nearly half of the fatalities occurred in the Carolina outbreak of March 28th).