May Tornado Stats and Outlook

It’s that time of year where every time we have precipitation chances, we have to think about the threat for tornadoes too.  I found some stats on Oklahoma tornadoes for the month of May:

Turns out, we average 22 tornadoes during the month, dating back to 1950.  The most we’ve ever seen is 90, in the years 1999 and 2010.  2005 recorded zero tornadoes.

I looked at some weather models and there are some storm chances for Oklahoma over the next two weeks. The latest outlook from the Climate Prediction Center calls for an equal chance of seeing either below or above normal precipitation in May.

Tornadoes are unpredictable.  As meteorologists, we’re constantly gathering new information on storm structure.  Each storm is different.  Some storms are just “pulse storms,” ones that you find on a typical summer afternoon.  These type can quickly produce heavy rainfall, hail, and damaging winds.  However, the tornado threat is very small.  Other storms can become supercellular.  These can produce all of the above plus deadly tornadoes.  But, not every supercell storm produces a mesocyclone. 

Technology, such as Doppler Radar, can pinpoint an area of weak or strong rotation, favoring the development of a twister, but whether one forms is up to Mother Nature. 

Analysis of past events helps us gather new information on the structure of storms which will help us better-predict tornadoes in the future.

Remember, whether there is just one tornado in a month, or 90, it only takes one storm to produce a violent tornado that can cause considerable damage.  In Oklahoma, we know this all too well.

-Danielle        Twitter: @DanielleDozier


2 Responses

  1. Good heads up, but there is one tiny little detail worth noting: “But, not every supercell storm produces a mesocyclone.” This is a contradictory statement as the definition of a supercell thunderstorm is, as stated by Chuck Doswell, “…a convective storm that possesses a deep, persistent mesocyclone.”

    • Ahh, you’re right! Typo-should have said “not every storm produces a mesocyclone.”

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