As we start out 2012 with a bang, are the tornadic storms of the past few weeks a precursor as to what we should expect this season? After-all, it is January and we have seen EF-3 tornadoes, a PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) Watch, and a Moderate risk. As we enter the New Year in a La Nina weather pattern, history guides us with what to expect. “Statistics suggest, but don’t guarantee, above-average tornado activity in January-April 2012. Historically this activity occurs mainly in the Gulf Coast (excluding the Florida Peninsula), Southeast, Mississippi Valley, and Tennessee Valley” states Dr. Greg Forbes. Dr. Forbes goes on to discuss how positive NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) “tends to favor tornado outbreaks, but it’s far from a foolproof indicator.”
(*courtesy of wikipedia of course)
The first instance of severe weather occurred on January 09, 2012, with EF-1 and EF-0 tornadoes reported in Fort Bend, Brazoria and Galveston counties, Texas. The first tornadoes of the year damaged multiple homes, and barns.
January 11th brought tornadoes to North Carolina, and included the first EF-2 tornado of the year with winds at roughly 115mph. The tornadoes in Rutherford and Burke counties were responsible for 20 injuries, and luckily… zero fatalities. Respected meteorologist, Jon Davies discusses the event in his weather blog, definitely a bookmarked site and always a great read: Jon Davies Severe Weather Notes
Due to the events of January 22nd and January 23rd , the latest casualties lie in some of the same areas hit on April 27th Super Outbreak, ABC News and Diane Sawyer spark controversy discussing how there was “No Warning,” “how could this happen in January?!?!” I don’t know if it was public outcry that sparked them to run a feel good piece with James Spann of Birmingham, AL’s ABC 33/40, the discussion of weather radios and survivor stories…I know I was glad they didn’t re-hash the event. See the video here. The fact of the matter is Watches and Warnings only work if a. every household owns NOAA weather radio b. the public understands the difference between a watch/warning and c. pays attention to them.