An unusually quiet March for tornadoes--only 6 so far

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 11:37 AM GMT on March 21, 2013

Share this Blog
39
+

After an unusually active January for tornadoes, with approximately double the activity of a typical January, tornado activity dropped to near-normal levels in February, and virtually flat-lined during March. The five confirmed tornadoes in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama on Monday, March 18 brought the March 2013 tornado tally to just six. Monday's severe weather outbreak in the south brought hail up to the size of softballs to Jackson, MS, and damage from the hailstorm is estimated in the tens of millions.

Since 2000, the U.S. has averaged 89 tornadoes each March, so we have a long way to go to reach average. The 154 tornadoes last year in March 2012 was the fourth highest March total since records began in 1950 (record: 170 in March 2007.) Records for most and least tornadoes in a month have been set 24 times over the past 60 years. Ten of those records have been set in the past decade--six for the fewest tornadoes, and four for the most, said tornado researcher Harold Brooks last week. In addition, the three earliest starts of tornado season and the four latest have all occurred since 1997, and "We've had a dramatic increase in the variability of tornado occurrence," Brooks said. The jet stream, which plays a key role in tornado formation, has been wildly variable in recent years, leading to the large swings in tornado activity.


Figure 1. The EF-2 tornado with 120 mph winds that hit Meriwether and Pike County, Georgia on Monday, March 18, 2013 was one of just six March tornadoes in 2013. The cell labeled "3" spawned the tornado. Two other supercells are also labeled (cell #1 brought hail to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.) Thanks go to Stu Ostro of TWC for providing the image.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is highlighting only a small "Slight Risk" area for severe weather on Thursday over Northern Texas, and another "Slight RIsk" area on Saturday over the Southeast U.S. The winter-like jet stream pattern we are in is likely to be dominant for at least the next week, and perhaps into April. So, March 2013 has a shot at making the top-five list for the quietest March months on record for tornado activity. Years with fewest March tornadoes since 1950:

1) 1951: 6
2) 1969: 8
3) 1966: 12
4) 1958: 15
5) 1978: 17


Forecasting the End
We're safely past the December 21, 2012 date of the predicted Mayan Apocalypse, so its permissible to engage in a bit of "what if" speculation on how civilization on Earth might ultimately meet its doom. That's the premise of The Weather Channel's "Forecasting the End" series, which begins airing Thursday March 21 at 9 pm EDT. I'll be making appearances in six of the episodes, set to air each Thursday through mid-April. You might hear me say the phrase, "It would be a bad day on planet Earth" more than once during the shows, as the type of events being considered--an asteroid strike, super volcano eruption, gamma ray burst, encounter with a rogue planet, and massive methane expulsion event--would all do very bad things to earth's climate, making human life on Earth a tenuous proposition. The spectacular graphics should make for an enjoyable show.

New Wettest Place on Earth Discovered?
After successfully helping cast down one iconic world record--the bogus 136°F measured at El Azizia, Libya in 1922--wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, and weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera are at it again. Mr. Burt documents in his latest blog post a challenge to the world's rainiest location, which is officially Mawsynram, Meghalaya State, India, with an annual average precipitation of 11,872 mm (467.40”). It turns out that Puerto Lopez, Colombia may be even wetter.

I'll have a new post on Friday.

Jeff Masters

Sample of hail (sirenscall)
3/18/13
Sample of hail

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 663 - 613

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15Blog Index

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MTWX:


Where are you located Scott? Around here our springs are usually quite moist.. The rains usually shut off about mid May, and then, with the exception of our summer pop up storms and tropical systems, we don't see widespread rains again until October.


Orlando
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Maybe you didn't see this at the end of his post. I mean really.

Nonsense.


personally i think the idea that someone calling your premise 'nonsense' is some sort of personal attack is itself nonsense.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Alabama they cant say it enough.heed your local warnings..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
Quoting yonzabam:


Same as last year. Above average number of storms, failure to intensify as they move into the western half, and mostly recurving out to sa.
Lol.THIS!.But if we stay in our current blocking pattern you can forget about recurves..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaEvac:


I'm beginning to think the Mexican cap is permanently establishing itself well into TX now. Years ago we never had this cap issue, it would storm and rain and we'd get our rainfall.
I hope you do get some rain out of this system..we need it bad also.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
Quoting MississippiBoy2:
What's ya'll thoughts on 2013 hurricane season?
I'm waiting until May to make a decision.As of now it seems that it'll be active.But as we all know 2006 was looking like it was gonna be active and then the pacific switched out on a dime.

I'm going with a safe 15 for now..(Not going to predict majors as last year is an example of just because it's active doesn't mean we'll have more stronger storms.)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting LargoFl:
ok today Texas begins the battle,hot versus cold...


I'm beginning to think the Mexican cap is permanently establishing itself well into TX now. Years ago we never had this cap issue, it would storm and rain and we'd get our rainfall.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630
you folks who park your cars outside..pay attention..possible Large Hail............THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST
LOUISIANA...SOUTH MISSISSIPPI AND THE ADJACENT COASTAL WATERS.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT

A FEW STRONG TO POSSIBLY SEVERE STORMS ARE POSSIBLE IN AREAS
NORTHWEST OF A SAINT FRANCISVILLE TO LIBERTY MISSISSIPPI LINE.
THE MAIN THREAT IS HAIL.

THE PEARL RIVER REMAINS ABOVE FLOOD STAGE. PLEASE REFER TO THE
LATEST RIVER FLOOD STATEMENTS FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY

A FRONTAL SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO IMPACT THE AREA THROUGH SUNDAY
WITH THUNDERSTORMS POSSIBLE SATURDAY. A FEW OF THESE
THUNDERSTORMS COULD BECOME STRONG TO SEVERE SATURDAY AFTERNOON
AND EARLY EVENING. THE MAIN THREATS WILL BE LARGE HAIL AND
DAMAGING WINDS.

THE PEARL RIVER IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN ABOVE FLOOD STAGE. THE
ATCHAFALAYA RIVER AT MORGAN CITY IS FORECAST TO GO ABOVE FLOOD
MONDAY MORNING. PLEASE REFER TO THE LATEST RIVER FLOOD STATEMENTS
FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
654. ARiot
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Maybe you didn't see this at the end of his post. I mean really.

Nonsense.


You posted that March 2013 is "Global" Cooling.

That is nonsense on multiple levels.

An attack would be against you, not the words you posted.

Perhaps you could have posted a smiley or sarcasm tag so people would realize that you in no way equate cooler than normal temperatures in one small slice of the planet for a short time in the wake of the warmest planet year on the observable temperature record and called it "global cooling."

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiBoy2:
What's ya'll thoughts on 2013 hurricane season?


Same as last year. Above average number of storms, failure to intensify as they move into the western half, and mostly recurving out to sea.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ok today Texas begins the battle,hot versus cold...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
What's ya'll thoughts on 2013 hurricane season?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Maybe you didn't see this at the end of his post. I mean really.

Nonsense.


Yes, because you made a a pretty strong claim (this March would be in the top 10 or 20 coldest) that not only did you not present any evidence for, but was also strongly refuted by observational data. The claim you made IS nonsense from that perspective.

It would be the same as me claiming that this March will be in the top 20 or top 10 warmest. That claim is also nonsense.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
UKMET shows dual 993 and 996mb lows

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST
FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

...FOG IMPACT...
PATCHY FOG IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP TONIGHT INTO EARLY SATURDAY
MORNING AS LOW LEVEL MOISTURE QUICKLY RETURNS. VISIBILITY IN A FEW
LOCATIONS COULD BE REDUCED TO LESS THAN ONE HALF OF A MILE.


.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY.

...THUNDERSTORM IMPACT...
LOW PRESSURE AND AN ASSOCIATED COLD FRONT WILL APPROACH AND MOVE
ACROSS THE REGION BRINGING SHOWERS AND A FEW THUNDERSTORMS INTO
WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. SOME OF
THE STORMS COULD BECOME STRONG...PARTICULARLY OVER THE NATURE
COAST LATE SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY. POTENTIAL HAZARDS WILL BE
GUSTY WINDS...SMALL HAIL...AND ISOLATED TORNADOES.

...EXCESSIVE COLD IMPACT...
MUCH COOLER DRIER AIR WILL MOVE INTO THE REGION EARLY NEXT WEEK
LEADING TO OVERNIGHT LOW TEMPERATURES FALLING INTO THE 30S ACROSS
PORTIONS OF THE NATURE COAST TUESDAY NIGHT AND AGAIN WEDNESDAY
NIGHT.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
647. fuzed
Quoting SFLWeatherman:
The cold is not over


I'm over it.

When does the blocking high move?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MTWX:


The hail potential is the only reason I see it being upgraded. Don't think there will be enough low level shear to enhance the tornado risk to a moderate level.


SPC is doing an update at 12:00 or so CDT, so well know soon enough
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting LargoFl:
i see sunday,a warm 80 degree front smashing into a cold front,battle line being drawn between the 2 fronts somewhere either right over my area or to the north in florida..we'll see just how bad it gets on the weekend..both sat and sunday my temps are 80 then it falls into the 60's after the fight is over....lets see how severe the warnings get saturday.


Houston hit a record 90 this week already
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630
cmc holding to northern solution





Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
643. VR46L
Good Morning Folks....

See religion has just been re-brought up and The other same old

Before I lurk while this is going on

Horrific day here



Have a good day!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting LargoFl:
boy GFS isnt kidding about sunday huh.....
It's been awful all winter.Why beleive it now?.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Here is the current position of the jet stream right over the coastal Gulf region hence the slight risk; however, warm Gulf flow and daytime heating tomorrow, if a substantial rain shield does not establish itself out ahead of the advancing front to help cool things down, will make for a very bumpy ride whether we remain at slight or they bump it up as the day progresses.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i see sunday,a warm 80 degree front smashing into a cold front,battle line being drawn between the 2 fronts somewhere either right over my area or to the north in florida..we'll see just how bad it gets on the weekend..both sat and sunday my temps are 80 then it falls into the 60's after the fight is over....lets see how severe the warnings get saturday.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
639. MTWX
Quoting WDEmobmet:


I am thinking that it will be upgraded... not based on anything other than the fact that all of march has been quite so far ( in regards to tornadoes) so if march wants to get with the program it would need to be this weekend or else march will go down as highly inactive


The hail potential is the only reason I see it being upgraded. Don't think there will be enough low level shear to enhance the tornado risk to a moderate level.
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
boy GFS isnt kidding about sunday huh.....
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
Quoting MTWX:

Shoot, I don't trust them more than 3 days out!! LOL!


Morning everbody.

Who thinks that SPC may upgrade tomorrow to a moderate risk come morning???

I'm not talking anything massive, just a small area from just west of the MS/AL border into South Central AL...


I am thinking that it will be upgraded... not based on anything other than the fact that all of march has been quite so far ( in regards to tornadoes) so if march wants to get with the program it would need to be this weekend or else march will go down as highly inactive
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
636. MTWX
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


LOL! Good morning. Looking like a wet couple of weeks for the SE US per the GFS. This is typically a dry time of the year for us in the SE. So I guess I will take this over the dry spring we had last year.



Where are you located Scott? Around here our springs are usually quite moist.. The rains usually shut off about mid May, and then, with the exception of our summer pop up storms and tropical systems, we don't see widespread rains again until October.
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
If you live in the CITY of D.C and beleive the GFS..your gonna have a BAD TIME.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
showers down in south florida..warm front is coming i guess..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
I don't understand why people attack others on here for saying how cold it's been but if someone post info on how hot it's been then that person is considered as GOD on here. Facts are facts people we have warm phases just as we have cold phases and this Spring the US appears to be in a cold phase due to this -NAO.
It's not "attacking" someone when I actually look up the data on the question that you didn't.

Next time, just look up some actual data before you say something as profound as "we're going to have one of the coldest March temperatures on record for the U.S." - if you don't, then you can't really feel bad when someone else does it for you.
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
Really, 75% of the US has expierenced colder than normal temperatures basically the whole month of March so far. Is it record breaking in every city no but as a whole we are trending one of the coldest Marches in a very long time. I would say top 10 to 20 coldest.
Just because a large area of the country experienced a certain condition (wetter than average, colder than average, etc) doesn't mean it will end up with the record value. To see the record value, you would almost always see numerous site records. In February we actually had a few more cold records than warm records, but ended up with a near-normal monthly temperature. So far in March we've had heat records out-pacing cold records 3:1. The first half of the month would have to be swamped with severe, persistent, and record-breaking cold for days and days. This is not an attack, it's what using math and science tells us when we use actual data.
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Maybe you didn't see this at the end of his post. I mean really.

Nonsense.

It's nonsense because:
1) Year-to-year swings are climate variability, not climate change.
2) The U.S. makes up roughly 2% of the globe.

Note: Corrected to note that you actual said "one of" the coldest March temperatures on record. But top 10-20 vs. #1... in both instances you would need more cold records than hot records and we have quite a bit to go before we see that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting allahgore:


I guess if you can't prove things you laugh?


He's laughing because your premise is logically flawed to begin with. You begin by assuming something exists, and then ask someone to disprove the existence of that thing.

Look up Russell's Teapot for more insight.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting severstorm:
yeah, this is what happens when i spend to much time at work. how are you doing Largo?
Hi im doing good..more 30's coming for you next week, tues and wens they say..winter it seems likes florida this year huh..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Hi Largo, things look interesting in E C FL Saturday as these thunderstorms will likely build down E C FL with temps pushing 90. Unfortunately Tampa maybe left high and dry on Saturday as all the rain will likely be north and just east of you. However Sunday is the day we all get dumped on by heavy rains and severe weather.
Hi, yes i think sunday is going to be our very watchful day for bad weather, hope no hail and tornado's etc..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38532
Good Morning Folks. Enjoyed seeing Dr. Master's last night on the new Weather Channel series although the "Forecasting the End" title is way over the top for potential events that might not happen for another 500-1000 years............ :)

Here is a nice synopsis for the potential tri-state (AL/FL Panhandle/GA) severe weather potential this weekend from the Tallahassee NWS am weather briefing:

Threat Overview:
 Large Hail
 Damaging Winds
 Isolated Tornadoes
 Locally Heavy Rain

Synopsis:

A very complex Low Pressure System is forecast to impact our Region over the upcoming weekend, as an Upper Level Disturbance dives southeastward into the Lower Plains by Saturday Afternoon. This will allow a strong Warm Frontal Boundary to become established along the northern Gulf Coast on Saturday, with a new Surface Low Pressure System expected to form and push northeastward just to our west. This new Low will help push the Warm Front (and plenty of deep layer moisture from the Gulf of Mexico) northward through our area, resulting in a “2-pronged”
Severe Weather threat, described below.

Timing:

The first threat for Severe Weather will come with the passage of the Warm Frontal Boundary itself, as it pushes northward through the Tri-State Area either Saturday Afternoon or Evening. Although all types of Severe Weather mentioned above will be possible with the Warm Front, this time period may provide the greatest threat for Tornadoes due to the more favorable environmental wind profile. The second threat for Severe Thunderstorms will be along the squall line which is expected to develop just out ahead of the Cold Front as it begins to accelerate and sweep eastward through the region late Saturday Night into the first half of Sunday. Again, all types of Severe Weather will be possible with the squall line and, but the greatest threats with this line may be Damaging Straight Line Winds and Large Hail. As we get closer and closer to the event, we expect to be able to hone in better on the timing and multiple threats from this system.

Severe Storm Probability:

The storm prediction center has outlooked our Tri-State area in their Day 2 Slight Risk shown below.


Slight risk as opposed to moderate is a good thing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chucktown:


Don't worry, they "gang up" on anyone who isn't in "their" camp. Like a pack of wolves waiting on weak prey. I like the ostrich in sand comments the best.


LOL! Good morning. Looking like a wet couple of weeks for the SE US per the GFS. This is typically a dry time of the year for us in the SE. So I guess I will take this over the dry spring we had last year.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
627. beell
Are the two Scott's talking about the same thing?

Coldest March in History/One of the coldest
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Maybe you didn't see this at the end of his post. I mean really.

Nonsense.


Don't worry, they "gang up" on anyone who isn't in "their" camp. Like a pack of wolves waiting on weak prey. I like the ostrich in sand comments the best.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Ohio Prosecutor Indicts Punxsutawney Phil for ‘Misrepresentation of Early Spring’




Well, I don't know that I'd go as far as the death penalty but I'd like to see him sentenced to life in a cage with all the WU trolls... :-)

Lindy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
624. MTWX
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


I think there will be but where is the question. The GFS continues to show a lot of action across C & N FL on Saturday and that area could be a hot spot for damaging weather. I think any severe weather in your area will occur after sun down (maybe like 5pm to 8pm) based on the GFS.



I think I'm going to be a little north of the action this time. Thinking the battle ground for tomorrow is going to stay primarily south of the I-20 corridor.

Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
Quoting Grothar:


Hostile wind shear in the Atlantic




Im pretty sure thats the only thing that is keeping anything from forming.

Once the jet stream moves north later this spring and takes the shear with it... BAM!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
622. beell


Quoting MTWX:

Shoot, I don't trust them more than 3 days out!! LOL!


Morning everbody.

Who thinks that SPC may upgrade tomorrow to a moderate risk come morning???

I'm not talking anything massive, just a small area from just west of the MS/AL border into South Central AL...


Put me down for a "no", fwiw.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Xyrus2000:


No one is "attacking" you. ScottLincoln is merely countering your statement based on the current national high and low records for the month.

Disagreeing with someone based on factual information is not "attacking".


Maybe you didn't see this at the end of his post. I mean really.

Nonsense.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Hostile wind shear in the Atlantic


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Florida should be on the lookout.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MTWX:

Shoot, I don't trust them more than 3 days out!! LOL!


Morning everbody.

Who thinks that SPC may upgrade tomorrow to a moderate risk come morning???

I'm not talking anything massive, just a small area from just west of the MS/AL border into South Central AL...


I think there will be but where is the question. The GFS continues to show a lot of action across C & N FL on Saturday and that area could be a hot spot for damaging weather. I think any severe weather in your area will occur after sun down (maybe like 5pm to 8pm) based on the GFS.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
I don't understand why people attack others on here for saying how cold it's been but if someone post info on how hot it's been then that person is considered as GOD on here. Facts are facts people we have warm phases just as we have cold phases and this Spring the US appears to be in a cold phase due to this -NAO.



No one is "attacking" you. ScottLincoln is merely countering your statement based on the current national high and low records for the month.

Disagreeing with someone based on factual information is not "attacking".
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We have some rain west of Tampa moving east toward the West Coast of Florida. Could also see some thunderstorms develope as well over FL later today.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
RE 593 TropicsWeather:

I don't know about you over there but that rain that was forecasted last week never arrived. I just KNOW that someone doesn't like me and I'm going to be FORCED to get that cistern reading in the next couple of days!

Looks like we're fishing tonight. Thanks for the update!

Lindy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
613. MTWX
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Never trust a forecast out beyond 5 days.

Shoot, I don't trust them more than 3 days out!! LOL!


Morning everbody.

Who thinks that SPC may upgrade tomorrow to a moderate risk come morning???

I'm not talking anything massive, just a small area from just west of the MS/AL border into South Central AL...
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393

Viewing: 663 - 613

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
73 °F
Mostly Cloudy