While March is generally considered to be the beginning of tornado season, this year the season got an early and deadly start in late January when two people were killed by separate twisters in Alabama, and just yesterday, dozens of homes were damaged by a tornado in Georgia that knocked out power and forced schools to close. Preliminary reports showed 95 tornadoes struck last month, compared with 16 in January 2011.
The season usually starts in March and ramps up over the next couple of months, but forecasting tornado seasons is even more imprecise than predicting hurricane seasons. Small and too short-lived, tornados eluded scientists’ ability to make seasonal predictions. They pop in and pop out, and if the weather service can let people know 20 minutes in advance, it’s considered a victory. Despite the difficulties in predicting the tornado season, forecasters are telling the Southeast and heartland to get ready again.
All this is remincent of one of the worst tornado years in U.S. history. Tornadoes in 2011 started on New Year’s Day killing hundreds, injuring thousands and causing billions in damage. The 2011 season continued on to break records for the most tornadoes in a single day and in a single month. Still, tornado experts just don’t know what that means for this year. Keep in mind, climate scientists have told us that the impacts of climate change include more incidences of extreme weather events, so folks should be aware as we head into another tornado season.
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