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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713. 1900hurricane
2:05 AM GMT on April 05, 2013
Everyone is posting on a more recent blog post
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11667
712. Andrebrooks
2:01 AM GMT on April 05, 2013
CSU GETS THEIR FORECAST NEXT WEDNESDAY.
Member Since: March 25, 2013 Posts: 29 Comments: 991
711. Andrebrooks
2:00 AM GMT on April 05, 2013
Do ya'll this is going to be an active hurricane season.
Member Since: March 25, 2013 Posts: 29 Comments: 991
710. Andrebrooks
5:31 PM GMT on April 04, 2013
Just found the 4-4-13 anomalies for the sst
Member Since: March 25, 2013 Posts: 29 Comments: 991
708. ScottLincoln
7:01 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The CONUS temperature anomaly is currently -0.653, meaning as a whole, the United States has been below average this month. With another cold shot coming over the coming days, and another one after that, the CONUS temperature anomaly will probably end up between -0.6-0.75C.

This month is probably the coldest we've seen since 2011. November 2012...



...is close, but we've seen a greater expanse of below-average temperatures this month. And the heat in the West hasn't been as intense.


Do you happen to know the baseline of the anomaly you mentioned? And was it from NCDC data or some other source?

From NCDC data available here:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/us

March 1965 was the coldest with a -3.38C anomaly (compared to 1900-2000 average). For a March to make the top 20 coldest, it would need an anomaly of at least -1.56C. The entire CONUS would have to average roughly 3.5C/6.3F below average for the rest of the month to drag the -0.65 down that far.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3192
707. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
2:55 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
706. kwgirl
2:54 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
As I have mentioned a few times, I am not posting any bets on the numbers; the number of majors forecast for last season from most of the top dogs (Grey/Klotzbach-TSR, etc.) never materialized and the number of storms (mostly tropical storms vs. hurricanes) was on the high end in spite of an El Nino season. Anything can happen and if the global warming trends are true/continue, we are going to see some subtle anomalies and changes over the next few decades from past patterns/analog years.

Anything could happen in any given upcoming season with plenty of surprises on tap so I am done chasing the numbers/intensity game based on analog patterns in the pre-season..........We have to take it one season at a time as they unfold.
Do you mean One storm at a time? Good morning all.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
705. GeoffreyWPB
2:51 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION...UPDATED
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
947 AM EDT FRI MAR 22 2013

.UPDATE...
HIGH PRESSURE OVER WESTERN ATLANTIC WATERS WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE
FURTHER EAST INTO THE ATLANTIC WATERS TODAY ALLOWING FOR A FRONTAL
BOUNDARY OVER THE FLORIDA KEYS TO MOVE NORTH THROUGH SOUTH
FLORIDA. THIS FRONT WILL ALLOW FOR LOW LEVEL MOISTURE TO WORK INTO
THE AREA FROM THE SOUTH...AND ALLOW FOR THE DEW POINTS TO INCREASE
FROM THE 40S/50S EARLY THIS MORNING INTO THE 60S BY LATE THIS
AFTERNOON. HOWEVER...THERE WILL STILL BE VERY DRY AIR IN THE MID
TO UPPER LEVELS OF THE ATMOSPHERE WHICH WILL LIMIT THE COVERAGE OF
SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY OVER THE AREA. SO WILL KEEP THE
POPS AT THE 30 TO 40 PERCENT RANGE WITH ONLY A SLIGHT CHANCE OF
THUNDERSTORMS MAINLY THIS AFTERNOON INTO EARLY THIS EVENING.

IF ANY STORMS DO DEVELOP OVER SOUTH FLORIDA THIS AFTERNOON THEY
COULD ROTATE DUE TO THE HIGH SEAR IN THE WIND FLOW. HOWEVER...DUE
TO THE VERY LOW CHANCE OF STORMS ACROSS SOUTH FLORIDA TODAY WE
WILL NOT MENTION THIS IN THE MORNING HWO PACKAGE AT THIS TIME.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11145
704. hurricanes2018
2:50 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Winter Storm Virgil: Snow, Cold Continue into Spring This energy then emerges into the central Plains Friday night into Saturday, where we expect snow and increasing winds to develop in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska. Significant travel impacts are possible on stretches of I-80, I-70, I-76 and I-25 in these states.

The Denver metro area will likely see accumulations of five inches or more from Virgil. Heavier amounts are expected in the foothills
In Virgil's warm sector, we'll be watching parts of the South for a significant threat of severe storms and very heavy rain Saturday into Saturday night. For more information on this threat, click here.
Snow Heads East Sunday-Monday
At this time, some uncertainty remains with exactly where the most significant snow totals will be found as Winter Storm Virgil heads east Saturday night into Sunday.

In general, we expect the swath of snow to move from parts of Missouri to the middle-Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley. Snow accumulations of 4 to 10 inches are likely near and either side of the I-70 corridor. This could include cities such as Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Ill., Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.

Impacts may be tempered somewhat by the higher sun angle for late March during the daytime, which will likely keep roads warm enough in many areas to limit snow build-up. That said, in locations where snow falls at night and where snowfall rates are heavier in the daytime, roads will likely become snow covered.

Snow or a wintry mix could also develop in the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic by later Sunday.

Sunday night into Monday, Virgil will continue to produce snow or a rain/snow mixture in parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia could see some of this wintry precipitation during this time frame. Snow may also reach as far north as the New York City metro. Details on how significant the impacts will be are uncertain at this time.

Expect at least some travel delays in parts of the region for the Monday morning commute.

Of course, one key ingredient to this snowy start to spring is that we have plenty of cold air available thanks to an extreme weather pattern currently in place
Member Since: March 12, 2013 Posts: 14 Comments: 27505
703. LargoFl
2:49 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
that high has to move from greenland before we get spring..its forcing that cold artic air down into the deep usa.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38386
702. RTSplayer
2:41 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting washingtonian115:
Almost reminds me NOLA.Some areas still haven't recovered.In situations like Sandy and Katrina we as the american people have to depend on ourselves and neighbors and not the sorry congress we have in place now.


Rebuilding a catastrophe zone doesn't happen by magic. the government can't give every person in NOLA a free new home or business. Additionally, they actually put SLIGHTLY more reasonable housing building code regulations in place (regarding location and elevation,) and that costs money, which most of the people affected by Katrina were poor people living in 3rd or 4th generation housing to begin with; So they can't afford to meet the new building codes. Only thing wrong with the codes is they're actually not strict enough, but that's just the way it is.

If people want to live in a fish tank, the government shouldn't be liable, and the people who do not want to live in the fish tank should also not be liable.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
701. hurricanes2018
2:38 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
severe weather for the weekend for the south!!
Member Since: March 12, 2013 Posts: 14 Comments: 27505
700. 900MB
2:34 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
More winter on tap for NYC, arrgghh!
Member Since: June 11, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 684
699. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:30 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
So far we have been getting hit with storms after storms, just like a parade...
A new hurricane would be a disaster, especially if it's like Sandy... complete devastation.

The Northeast Coast is weak.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
698. washingtonian115
2:28 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The CONUS temperature anomaly is currently -0.653, meaning as a whole, the United States has been below average this month. With another cold shot coming over the coming days, and another one after that, the CONUS temperature anomaly will probably end up between -0.6-0.75C.

This month is probably the coldest we've seen since 2011. November..



...is close, but we've seen a greater expanse of below-average temperatures this month.

This is just disgusting.That map a year ago told a whol 'nother story.I don't want it to be like last year where it was a sona..just daily highs in the 60's and 70's.Is that to hard to ask for?.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16964
697. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:26 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
The CONUS temperature anomaly is currently -0.653, meaning as a whole, the United States has been below average this month. With another cold shot coming over the coming days, and another one after that, the CONUS temperature anomaly will probably end up between -0.6-0.75C.

This month is probably the coldest we've seen since 2011. November 2012...



...is close, but we've seen a greater expanse of below-average temperatures this month. And the heat in the West hasn't been as intense.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31981
696. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:25 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Good morning Pcola


some severe weather for your area tomorrow, don't worry we well keep you covered.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
695. weathermanwannabe
2:22 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
As I have mentioned a few times, I am not posting any bets on the numbers; the number of majors forecast for last season from most of the top dogs (Grey/Klotzbach-TSR, etc.) never materialized and the number of storms (mostly tropical storms vs. hurricanes) was on the high end in spite of an El Nino season. Anything can happen and if the global warming trends are true/continue, we are going to see some subtle anomalies and changes over the next few decades from past patterns/analog years.

Anything could happen in any given upcoming season with plenty of surprises on tap so I am done chasing the numbers/intensity game based on analog patterns in the pre-season..........We have to take it one season at a time as they unfold.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9111
694. pcola57
2:22 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Good morning Pcola


Good Morning Max..
Good to see ya.. :)
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
693. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:20 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting pcola57:


Good Morning All..
Largo there's 6 Low pressure systems and 5 High pressure systems in that 48hr GFS Prediction..
(Counting the High off the Pacific coast)..
Geez..active..


Good morning Pcola
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
692. washingtonian115
2:17 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting pcola57:


Congress took too long to enable the money for Sandy IMO..
Almost reminds me NOLA.Some areas still haven't recovered.In situations like Sandy and Katrina we as the american people have to depend on ourselves and neighbors and not the sorry congress we have in place now.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16964
691. pcola57
2:14 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting washingtonian115: Post#689
Ironically usually after a big storm hits a part of the counrty we get a break and another are of the counrty is terrorized.For an example.Hurricanes Katrina,Wilma,and Rita devestated the gulf coast.Until 2008 they had a nice little break to get together..and didn't have another storm until Issac..So it may be their time this year indeed...


Congress took too long to enable the money for Sandy victims IMO..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
690. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:13 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
689. washingtonian115
2:12 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting pcola57:


Yeah Washi.. you folks on the East Coast need time to heal and fortify..
Ironically usually after a big storm hits a part of the counrty we get a break and another are of the counrty is terrorized.For an example.Hurricanes Katrina,Wilma,and Rita devestated the gulf coast.Until 2008 they had a nice little break to get together..and didn't have another storm until Issac..So it may be their time this year indeed...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16964
688. pcola57
2:09 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
NWS For my area Saturday Morning..



Saturday afternoon..



Saturday night..

Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
687. pcola57
2:05 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting washingtonian115: Post#686
I hope your right..don't want another Irene or Sandy running up the coast..Isabel was already enough and that was 10 years ago!(already? wow).


Yeah Washi.. you folks on the East Coast need time to heal and fortify..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
686. washingtonian115
2:02 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting pcola57:
Bermuda High strengh and location critical this year for East Coast folks..
I'm looking for Carribean and Homegrown storms here..
I hope your right..don't want another Irene or Sandy running up the coast..Isabel was already enough and that was 10 years ago!(already? wow).
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16964
685. GeorgiaStormz
2:01 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Jim Cantore ‏@JimCantore 6m
NORLUN snow event for the Cape/ SE New England: Harwich 9.5", Brewster 9.2", Chatham 8", New Bedford 8", Fair Haven 7" Little Compton, RI 6"
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9727
684. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:00 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
My forecast for the season is at least 18 named storms, at least 8 hurricanes, and at least 3 major hurricanes. I've posted the below graphics before, but I'm doing it again so those that haven't seen it...can see it.

CFSv2 three-monthly wind shear forecast for the Atlantic and East Pacific:



Blues denote below-average wind shear.

CFSv2 three-monthly sea surface temperature forecast for the Atlantic and East Pacific:



Orange and reds denote above-average values.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31981
683. washingtonian115
2:00 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
It has been a windy winter for sure.So windy that in fact even people who pay little attention to the weather around here wants to know what is going on.It's been that kniving jet stream.I've had one to many bad hair days this winter!.A matter of fact CWG wants to discuss it in a post.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16964
682. pcola57
2:00 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Bermuda High strength and location critical this year for East Coast folks..
I'm looking for Carribean crusiers and Homegrown storms here..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
681. LargoFl
1:57 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38386
680. pcola57
1:55 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE: Post3677


Looks like I'll be pumping the pool out again this weekend..
Messes up my chemicals big time..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
679. GeorgiaStormz
1:52 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
average significant tornado 22 march



Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9727
678. LargoFl
1:52 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38386
677. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:51 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
676. pcola57
1:51 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting LargoFl:
Hi, yes im getting a lil anxious about this one, way too much uncertainty about exactly where..the severe stuff will hit in florida


Yeah, guess I'm in for it..
No tornadoes please..
You guys/gals watch out this weekend Largo..
Lots of spring breakers don't know how to deal with this kind of weather..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
675. pcola57
1:48 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting MississippiBoy2:
What's ya'll thoughts on 2013 hurricane season?


Above average TC,average Hurricaines, above average Majors..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
674. LargoFl
1:48 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
chilly here this morning..........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38386
673. LargoFl
1:46 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting pcola57:


Good Morning All..
Largo there's 6 Low pressure systems and 5 High pressure systems in that 48hr GFS Prediction..
Geez..active..
Hi, yes im getting a lil anxious about this one, way too much uncertainty about exactly where..the severe stuff will hit in florida
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38386
672. washingtonian115
1:46 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting SFLWeatherman:
If I believe this can I get a cookie?.

Morning keep.As hurricane season draws close it will be hard KEEPING (no pun intended) the blog together.
especially if we have a slow start.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16964
671. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:45 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
morning everyone
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
670. pcola57
1:44 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting LargoFl: Post#638
boy GFS isnt kidding about sunday huh.....


Good Morning All..
Largo there's 6 Low pressure systems and 5 High pressure systems in that 48hr GFS Prediction..
(Counting the High off the Pacific coast)..
Geez..active..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6819
669. VR46L
1:39 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting yonzabam:

September is 6 months away. You think that blocking pattern will still be there in 6 months time?


Just A quick Comment the Tropical season starts officially 1st of June and last year the Atlantic had Alberto and Beryl before that and the majority of the storms happened last year before September... Its the Cape verde part of the season that tends to occur in September.

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6898
668. newt3d
1:38 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Just a couple statistical points ...

Comparisons of record highs versus record lows for a month is not a statement about average temperature.

Sure, they're correlated ... but one is a statement about mean, and the other is a statement about mean + variance. It very well could be that a month could be cooler than average, with more record highs than lows.

It also largely depends on where measurements are taken and how the average is computed. A record warm day over the northeast will show several record warm observations but will cover a small area of the nation and contribute little toward the national average (if it's weighted by area).
Member Since: October 6, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 90
667. washingtonian115
1:38 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting yonzabam:

September is 6 months away. You think that blocking pattern will still be there in 6 months time?
I know that the pattern can switch in and out over a few months..I'm not retarded -_-.But if the blocking pattern dominates then we're screwed..thats what I was saying..Just look at 04 and 05 for examples..But if the blocking pattern doesn't stay in place and goes away at the right time the U.S can be spared (2010 for an example.)
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16964
666. LargoFl
1:34 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38386
665. yonzabam
1:33 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Quoting washingtonian115:
Lol.THIS!.But if we stay in our current blocking pattern you can forget about recurves..

September is 6 months away. You think that blocking pattern will still be there in 6 months time?
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2925
664. LargoFl
1:32 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
I think washi is right, way too early to predict the coming hurricane season and the gulf is cold this year, it will take some time for it to heat up again, and we still are getting cold weather
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38386
663. SFLWeatherman
1:31 PM GMT on March 22, 2013
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4507

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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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