Nov. 22, 2016
by Historical Climatologist Evelyn Browning-Garriss & Climatological Analyst James J. Garriss
Did you enjoy the quiet year? NOAA statistics show 2016 was one of the quietest years for tornadoes since records began in 1954. This is the fifth year in a row that tornado activity has been below average.
Weather experts were expecting a quiet year because 2016 started with a large strong El Niño. The warm Tropical Pacific event distorts weather around the world and usually suppresses US tornado activity. While last winter was unusually active around the Gulf, the season began to quiet down in springtime. By mid-November, the peaceful season broke all records. Only 971 storms were reported and, when records were matched and double reports were eliminated, the US had only had 830 tornadoes.
The El Niño ended by June. By August, the Pacific had cooled and in October, following three months of dropping temperatures, NOAA officially announced that there were La Niña conditions that would last the rest of autumn and probably linger into winter. One-tenth of the Earth’s surface is colder than normal and this shifts weather patterns all over the globe. How will it affect the tornado season here in the US?
La Niñas are bad news for Texas and Oklahoma, as well as Arkansas, Southern Missouri and Kansas. They also increase tornado activity in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The phenomenon also increases the risk of hailstorms in much of the corn belt and winter wheat areas.
The good news is that the cold, snowy weather usually brings the tornado season to a close for most of the nation, except the Gulf, which is at lower risk since we are experiencing La Niña conditions. However, we can, sometimes be surprised by a snownado or tornado during a snowstorm. (Imagine, a blizzard with tornadoes – Brrrrrrr!).
So, we hope you enjoyed the quiet year. The Pacific has changed and the weather can become more exciting for cattle raising and grain, especially if the La Niña lingers into springtime. So, prepare for what to do if there are tornadoes and soak up the peaceful weather while it lasts. – TBB
James Garriss and Evelyn Browning Garriss are part of Browning Media which publishes the Browning World Climate Bulletin™ that has provided accurate regional climate information and forecasts for over 40 years. The information in the Bulletin provides useful information for ranchers and others to help them plan months in advance for changing conditions. TSCRA members are entitled to a 20 percent discount off the normal subscription price. Please visit browningclimate.com/customer-panel/new-subscription and choose your type of subscription. At checkout put in the Coupon Code TSCRA1116 and you will receive a 20 percent discount.