Should Oklahoma Brace for an Active Tornado Season? - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Should Oklahoma Brace for an Active Tornado Season?

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The end of winter maybe a month away but you know what that means - severe storm season is not far behind.

It could be an active serve weather season. If history repeats itself we need to start preparing now.

Looking back at last year's severe storm season, it initially didn't appear it was going to be very active. The primary reason was the serious drought that continued statewide.

But as we quickly discovered, the severity of the drought did not impact our severe storm season. We finished 2013 with the second highest number of tornadoes in the U.S. with 79, well above our yearly average of 57.

“The pattern can change that quickly,” State Climatologist Gary McManus said. “Even if we've had a cold or warm winter or a drought, severe weather can come back with proper day to day conditions.”

So how will this winter's cold weather impact our upcoming spring storm season? McManus says be prepared for an active season.

“This extended period of cold we are seeing in February is reminiscent of what we saw in the February 2011 when the first few days of the month were some of the coldest in Oklahoma History,” he said.

That year we had more than a 100 tornadoes with a majority of them occurring in April.

“Out of the last three years we've had a record number of tornadoes in April so we don't have to wait until May,” McManus said.

It’s true, tornadoes in Oklahoma can form in spring, summer, winter or fall. But typically, storm development in the Sooner State ramps up by late March. The latest model data shows that over the next few weeks - toward the end of March into April - we could be back on the storm track.

“That means severe weather impacts like we've seen the last several years - tornadoes, large hail, strong winds and flooding rainfall,” McManus said. “A lot of folks call that a Tuesday in Oklahoma because all those things can happen at once.”

What happened during last year’s severe storm season is a great reminder for all of us that we should always be prepared because you never know when severe weather will strike.

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