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

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

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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

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363. 1900hurricane
8:53 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
Best forecast I've heard in a while for my area. Then again, the EML can still be the great buzzkill if it shows up too strong. From HGX:

ENERGY CARVING OUT A GREAT BASIN SHORTWAVE TROUGH...THIS FEATURE
TO DEEPEN INTO A SIGNIFICANT ENOUGH 5H OPEN WAVE TROUGH AS IT
COMES OUT OF THE ROCKIES SATURDAY. AN ACTIVE LONGITUDINAL SOUTHERN
JET BRANCH OVER NORTHERN TEXAS...COUPLED WITH A NW-TO-SE ORIENTED
JET STREAK MOVING OUT OF THE CENTRAL ROCKIES...MAY PROVIDE ENOUGH
UPPER LEVEL SUPPORT (COORDINATING RR AND LF QUADS) OVER NORTH
CENTRAL TEXAS TO GENERATE DECENT NORTHERN FORECAST CONVECTION.
COMBINE THIS ENERGY WITH FAIRLY SATURATE LOWER LEVELS (UNSEASONABLY
HIGH 1.25-1.30 INCH PWAT RANGE)...WITH DECENT MID-LEVEL LAPSE
RATES...THE POTENTIAL FOR ACTIVE SATURDAY WEATHER IS ALIVE. OF
COURSE...THE NEAR 8H WARM NOSE WILL BE THE DECIDER.
AS OF NOW...
MODEL SOUNDINGS DEPICT NEAR 1K CAPE AND A NEAR 70 F CAP-BREAKER
SURFACE TEMPERATURE. ONGOING FORECAST CALLS FOR DOWNSTREAM AFTERNOON
TEMPERATURES TO REACH THE LOWER 80S SO WE`LL SEE IF THAT IS ENOUGH
TO INITIATE MORE ACTIVE THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 47 Comments: 11709
362. LargoFl
8:49 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 AM EDT FRIDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER
WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW...WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 AM EDT
FRIDAY.

* LOCATIONS...PLYMOUTH AND SOUTHERN BRISTOL COUNTIES...AND CAPE
COD AND MARTHAS VINEYARD. THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF
PLYMOUTH...NEW BEDFORD...FALL RIVER...HYANNIS...FALMOUTH...AND
VINEYARD HAVEN.

* HAZARD TYPES...SNOW

* ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 2 TO 4 INCHES.

* TIMING...THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL OCCUR BETWEEN 8 PM AND 2 AM
TONIGHT...THOUGH THERE MAY BE FLURRIES OR LIGHT SNOW BEFORE AND
AFTER THIS TIME.

* IMPACTS...SNOW WILL BE HEAVY AT TIMES...REDUCING VISIBILITIES
AND MAKING ROADS AND OTHER SURFACES SLIPPERY. USE CAUTION WHEN
DRIVING AS THESE SNOW BANDS CAN OCCUR QUICKLY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS ISSUED WHEN SNOW AND/OR ICE IS
FORECAST TO DEVELOP IN THE AFFECTED AREAS...BUT ACCUMULATIONS ARE
EXPECTED TO BE LIGHT. ANY SNOW OR ICE WOULD MAKE DRIVING AND
WALKING DIFFICULT...BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE...ON UNTREATED ROADWAYS
AND SIDEWALKS. WHEN TEMPERATURES ARE BELOW FREEZING...MOTORISTS
NEED TO BE ESPECIALLY CAREFUL ON BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES WHERE
SLIPPERY SPOTS CAN EASILY DEVELOP.

&&

$$

RLG
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42264
361. LargoFl
8:48 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
Quoting Xandra:
International Day of Forests 2013

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests. The Day will celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. […]


TY for posting that..tree's are very Important
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42264
360. VR46L
8:47 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
This is fast becoming one of my favourite Sat Loops (does take a min to load)

North Atlantic and Western Europe Loop
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
359. Xandra
8:46 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
International Day of Forests 2013

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests. The Day will celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. […]


Member Since: November 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1281
358. LargoFl
8:46 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
nam for Monday...........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42264
357. trHUrrIXC5MMX
8:45 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
Quoting hurricanes2018:
its still snowing outside!!


nada aqui en Norwalk...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
356. LargoFl
8:44 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
travel delays..............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42264
355. hurricanes2018
8:43 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
its still snowing outside!!
Member Since: March 12, 2013 Posts: 113 Comments: 106180
354. trHUrrIXC5MMX
8:42 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
Quoting Grothar:


You know a remark like that will bring Washi out.


yes, absolutely...

Although I never said I favored or believed the NAM
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
353. CaribBoy
8:41 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
Quoting SPLbeater:


Its going west.


Latest GFS brings it towards the Caribbean as a Tropical Storm!! (joking of course...) :-)

Well... SERIOUSLY, we would love to see some RAIN here in the Leeward Islands.
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6456
352. Grothar
8:39 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
NAM calls for 6" of snow in DC


You know a remark like that will bring Washi out.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
351. Grothar
8:38 PM GMT on March 21, 2013
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


There have been waves this early in past years.


I don't know. This is either the 3rd or the 6th strongest thunderstorms since records keeping began.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
the coastline of washington state must be a brutal place to live in winter huh..every storm front that comes from asia hits them, one after another all winter long gee
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42264
Quoting SPLbeater:


Its going west.


Yes, it is young man.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting calkevin77:


Reminds me of a famous song by Toto...But hey maybe the season will start early this year.


LOL.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Pcola you be wary this weekend ok...........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42264
Quoting Grothar:
Look at these intense thunderstorms off the coast of Africa





Its going west.
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Monday is going to get interesting..DC northward
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42264
344. VR46L
Wow...

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42264
NAM calls for 6" of snow in DC
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Africa-Toto
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Look at these intense thunderstorms off the coast of Africa





Reminds me of a famous song by Toto...But hey maybe the season will start early this year.
Member Since: June 9, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 866

000
FXUS62 KTAE 211940
AFDTAE

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
340 PM EDT Thu Mar 21 2013

...Severe Storm possible this weekend...



There is some increasing concern for possible severe weather,
beginning Saturday afternoon and continuing through Saturday
night. For Saturday afternoon, mid-level flow is expected to be
rather strong, with deep layer shear between 50 and 60 knots. In
addition, some of the guidance is indicating steep mid- level
lapse rates spreading over the region (7-7.5 C/km). With
temperatures expected to reach the mid to upper 70s on Sunday,
this should yield plenty of instability to support vigorous
updrafts. Given the initial relative weakness of the low-level
flow, the primary threats for Saturday afternoon may be large hail
and damaging winds.

Moving into the evening hours, the warm front is forecast to
gradually lift north as the developing low lifts northeast into
Tennessee and a pre-frontal trough approaches from the west. The
deepening low will increase the low-level wind fields across the
area, which may increase the risk for tornadoes Saturday night.

There remains significant uncertainty as to the exact evolution
and intensity of this system. However, the potential for some type
of severe weather event does appear to be increasing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Look at these intense thunderstorms off the coast of Africa





There have been waves this early in past years.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14908
Look at these intense thunderstorms off the coast of Africa



Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210


Sweet - It continues - hope it get stuck like this......lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Bugger off the eastern seaboard is bombing out as we speak.

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 47 Comments: 11709
Little Red Rooster
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Quoting kwgirl:
I am really surprised when people excavate under the ground and the ground collapses. DUH! In Florida it is because of water, but this article states they have been mining salt. Evidently they took too much out of the mine.


You're right, but it's worse than that.

Salt dissolves obviously. Add a little water and it just gets worse and worse.

This is all basic knowledge though, but when a disaster happens, we gotta blame somebody, right?

I wouldn't even call this an "accident," because it was part of the plan the whole time. Anybody who knew the facts of the location would have known this was going to happen, before they even started working there, and that includes the Government and all the geologists. It's not the company's fault any more than it is the government's fault and the local geologists fault.

Dig a big enough hole in any pile of dirt and it will cave in, but this is salt. It's a joke.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
look at today's average risk area...new cool thing in SPC

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting wxchaser97:

I'm jealous.

I don't know if anyone saw this, but here is new new SPC page that will be implemented on March 28th.
new SPC page


yeah I was looking at the new design of it some hours ago..
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting WDEmobmet:
9-acre king of all sinkholes threatens to swallow a whole neighborhood

Is it just me or are sinkholes becoming a thing of the norm



"They caused this damage, and certainly we'll be aggressive in making sure that they pay their bills," Gov. Bobby Jindal says of Texas Brine.

What a moron.

It's only natural that when you take something out of the ground it will eventually collapse. Especially in this case where it's salt being washed out from beneath.

The "They" who caused the collapse is everyone who used the products based on the removed resources. The Governor should be the first to pay towards the damages, since he's certainly among the "They".

One day, we're going to have similar incidents happening all throughout the Gulf coast from all the oil wells everywhere, as entire oil fields collapse just like this.

Some locations in the Great Lakes region are going to pay the piper for salt mining and other deep mining.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Sink holes aren't new.So why is everyone acting like they are?.Floridians out of all people should be use to seeing them..
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Quoting WDEmobmet:
9-acre king of all sinkholes threatens to swallow a whole neighborhood

Is it just me or are sinkholes becoming a thing of the norm
I am really surprised when people excavate under the ground and the ground collapses. DUH! In Florida it is because of water, but this article states they have been mining salt. Evidently they took too much out of the mine.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
People Are Strange


appears I was beaten to it -- 71.1F here
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Quoting Slamguitar:
Time to meet Jeff! Be jealous. :D


Just tell him we aren't all as strange as we appear on the blog.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Now that's a sinkhole.



Edit: This is not a "sinkhole story". It is about a company that abandoned a salt mine because of structural integrity problems and did nothing to monitor or fix the problems. Then one day the chickens came home to roost.

I'm sure the mine owners would like to encourage the perception that it is just another sinkhole story, though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
Still skeptical.But that's another story.I think this spring is very similar to 2007.We had a cold March then and April was also below average for the most part.Now it seems this year will do a repeat.However by May we were above average again like I suspect this year.


It's all about the jet stream. It's been behaving crazily for a few years now, and no sign that it will ever return to 'normalcy'. This is a new climate regime, and it will affect everything - tornadoes, droughts and heatwaves, floods, hurricane tracks - everything.

Here in southern Scotland, the Met Office have forecast 8-16 inches of snow on Fri-Sat. I can't remember the last time I saw a foot of snow here. To get it in late March is, well, crazy.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3013
322. VR46L
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
People are strange when your a stranger


The Doors - People are Strange


38F Horrible Here
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
Quoting Slamguitar:
Time to meet Jeff! Be jealous. :D

I'm jealous.

I don't know if anyone saw this, but here is new new SPC page that will be implemented on March 28th.
new SPC page
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7972
Quoting WDEmobmet:
9-acre king of all sinkholes threatens to swallow a whole neighborhood

Is it just me or are sinkholes becoming a thing of the norm


Yikes, that's a big one.

It's possible there are more sinkholes opening up than usual, but I think it has more to do with news-cycle inertia. After a big story about something like sinkholes breaks, journalists will seek out and report on any sinkhole stories they can find to take advantage of our collective interest in the phenomenon of the month. Next month it might be landslides... or sewing machine mishaps...
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520


Winter weather advisories issued
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Time to meet Jeff! Be jealous. :D
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south enough to bring snow to Philly/NYC....

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
I think stormtracker19 mentioned a little flareup of thunderstorms in the east Pacific last night. (I saw it second)

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting MississippiWx:


You have Firefox? That is what I use. Not sure what changed to cause it because I've used Firefox for years and never had that problem.


Yea at home, currently im at work on IE but it is happening at both places
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Quoting kwgirl:
When I turn a page, it goes to the bottom but when I refresh it stays where I am at on the page.
Same here kw
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6000
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


A major storm is possible next week. Models call for snow all across the northeast?
Still skeptical.But that's another story.I think this spring is very similar to 2007.We had a cold March then and April was also below average for the most part.Now it seems this year will do a repeat.However by May we were above average again like I suspect this year.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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