La Nina and Tornadoes…

We all know it’s been incredibly dry across Oklahoma over the past 6 months, and as we head towards the spring severe weather season, many are wondering if we’ll even see any severe storms. So, let’s discuss. First things first, it’s important to mention that the research that has been done in finding a correlation between La Nina and tornadoes is rather weak since La Nina is a phenomenon that has only been reviewed for a just a few decades, and the data is hard to research since not every year is classified as La Nina. So, what we do know is this: There have been signs that when we are in a La Nina season, that the trends lean towards seeing an enhanced risk for tornadoes and severe storms well east of here.

As you can see by the map above, The Ohio Valley and Dixie Alley will likely see the greatest chance for severe storms this spring, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see any here in Oklahoma. We still will have our chance for severe storms as well.  As a matter of fact, some of the biggest tornado outbreaks have occurred during a La Nina season.

During our last La Nina season, which came in 2008 and lasted into the spring season, there were 1690 tornadoes reported, with Oklahoma seeing 77 tornadoes in all.  Last year, which was an El Nino season, we had 536 fewer tornadoes. So, this year may be more active than what we had last year, especially east of here. And, for those of you that remember the 1974 “SUPER OUTBREAK”, which occurred during a strong La Nina year, there were a record number of tornadoes reported in a single day. 148 to be exact with 6 “F5” tornadoes reported. And, check out where the outbreak occurred.

The outbreak fell right within the region that we listed above as having the greatest chance for seeing severe storms. So, what can we take out of all of this? We will see severe storms this spring, and we’re likely to see a high number of tornadoes, but the greatest chance of seeing this happen will be east of here. As for Oklahoma, yes, we too will see our chance for severe storms and the recent trend in low rain chances will not play a huge impact on the outlook this spring.

-Damon

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