Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Jet Stream Spawns Tornado Eruption
The only good thing about twisters is that they are local disasters. It hurts to be under one, but it generally leaves the rest of the country alone unless one gets unset over heavy rains blowing through.
This year we are getting a heavy assault early and at maximum intensity. It is still another fluke of nature that has happened before and will happen again. Our error is to assume a good year is normalcy. This is somewhat like the
South Saskatchewan grain farmer who
gets a forty bushel per acre crop and thinks the gods are smiling when the
historical average happens to be twelve bushels per acre thanks to drought
It is actually called roulette.
Why So Many Tornadoes Are Striking the
Brett Israel, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer
Date: 02 March 2012 Time: 05:55 PM ET
Wind speed at 18,000 feet in the atmosphere. The darkest shade represents winds of up to 150 mph.
A warm spell and a low-dipping jet stream are fueling the monster storms that are spawning tornadoes today across a wide swath of the country, weather experts said.
has received 311 reports of severe weather, including 48 reported tornadoes and
a few reported fatalities. This massive storm system also spawned deadly
tornadoes on Leap Day, which raked Storm
Prediction Center Kansas,
Kentucky and . The severe storms killed at least
12 people and included a strong EF-4
twister in Harrisburg, Tennessee Ill., a rarity for
As of this morning, the severe storm risk area covered an estimated 162 million people, or 56 percent of the
, according to weather
experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). United States
While the main tornado season runs from spring to early summer, this year's early outbreaks show that tornadoes can form under a variety of conditions and strike during fall and winter, too. This year's mild winter and warm start to meteorological spring has upped the risk of dangerous storms.
"We've been in a very warm pattern all winter," said meteorologist Mark Rose of the National Weather Service in
"Because it has been so mild, it increases our chances for severe
weather." Birmingham, Ala.
Also behind this week's twisters is a low-dipping jet stream. The jet stream is moving at a blistering pace today across the Mid-South and
. NOAA satellites clocked the jet
stream at 150 mph (241 kph) across these regions. The jet stream is bringing
cold air from Ohio River Valley Canada to mix
with the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.
Where these two differing air masses meet is often an area of severe weather,
hail, winds and even tornadoes.
The warm air and rapid jet stream will keep fueling the storms thru tonight and into the weekend, according to NOAA. Weather experts continue to warn that dangerous tornado outbreaks could explode throughout the evening and overnight hours across the Mid- and Deep South and
. Ohio River Valley
"We actually are looking at a risk from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes to west of the Mississippi to the East Coast," Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told the Weather Channel. "And these storms are moving fast."
You can follow OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel on Twitter: @btisrael. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.