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Title:With Hot Gulf Waters – Devastating Twisters Could Signal Rough Season

Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico often enter the conversation during hurricane season, but they also play a role in tornado season each spring. Concern is growing for the potential impact that abnormally warm sea surface temperatures will have in the weeks and months ahead, with experts warily keeping tabs on what could be a busy tornado season.

Friday’s tornado outbreak in Mississippi and Alabama, which killed at least 24 people, coincided with gulf waters up to several degrees warmer than normal and as high as the upper 70s.

April, May and June are historically the most active for severe weather and tornadoes, with an average of 660 twisters spinning up within the three-month window. They materialize seemingly like clockwork, creeping north across the Deep South before swimming over the Plains and the nation’s heartland.

While considerable variability can occur year to year, there may be ties between gulf sea surface temperatures and the frequency and intensity of severe weather events in the U.S. Deep South in particular.

In the months ahead, several key atmospheric processes could favor a busier-than-normal tornado season, including the warm gulf water, but the jury is still out on just how active it will be. Seasonal tornado forecasting is still in its infancy, and meteorologists are careful to remind the public that confidence remains low in what lies ahead.

The year has already been off to a historically active start, with a preliminary total of 168 tornadoes touching down across the Lower 48 states in January. That’s the second-most on record. In February, there were 55 tornadoes - double the average of 29.

Oklahoma reported 17 tornadoes in January and February. The average during that window is one.

On Jan. 16, two tornadoes spun up in eastern Iowa, the state’s first January tornadoes in 50 years.

Alabama also logged 29 tornadoes during January, smashing state records, and New Jersey even faced...

Organization:Climate Crocks
Date Added:3/26/2023 6:39:40 AM