Tornado Time… Widespread Threat Today

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Well, it’s April and that means tornado time is here!

Did you know that according to Forbes three of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history occurred in April?

In addition, four of the of the top 10 worst tornadoes in U.S. history have also taken place in April; Tuscaloosa, AL.- 2011, Hackleberg/Phil Campbell, AL.- 2011, Wichita Falls, TX.- 1979 and Gainesville, GA – 1936.

So what gives?  Well, there are several climatalogical factors that converge to create tons of twisters during the month of April. First off, as we progress into spring the sun is increasingly higher in the sky, providing more daylight to warm the earth’s surface. So it is common to have temperatures in the 70’s, 80’s or even 90’s ahead of the frontal systems that sweep through the plains. In addition there is also an increase in the amount of moisture in the air ahead of these frontal systems. Then, on top of these warm and humid pre-frontal air masses is the ever-strong jetstream. A southward shift in the jetstream that moves east into the Plains or South will split the aloft winds apart, forcing powerful upward vertical motion in the atmosphere while creating deep wind shear, which supports rotating supercell thunderstorms.  Supercells with strong wind shear within the first few thousand feet of the earth’s surface are more likely to produce tornadoes.

Of course this means that April is typically a busy time for independent adjusters as well. In addition to tornado activity, the strong supercell thunderstorms that are starting to pop now are also capable of producing large hail.

At present, a group of powerful supercell thunderstorms are expected to spread from Wichita, KS, to Columbia, MO today bringing the threat of tornadoes and large hail. In fact, there have already been several reports of baseball sized hail in several areas. These storms are also bringing heavy rains and the threat of flash/river floodingto the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys.

Storm season is kicking into gear ladies and gentlemen! Time to pack your bags and keep your cell phone handy…

The call can come at anytime, so be prepared 🙂

 

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