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The Spring of Twisters | Weather

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The Spring of Twisters
The Spring of Twisters

It was a scary spring especially for Joplin, Missouri, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama as twisters devastated their cities and caused loss of life. But here in Georgia we had our fair share of twisters as well.

March 26: 2 tornadoes in Central Georgia, EF-0 in Laurens county and EF-0 along the Crisp-Sumter county line.

April 4-5: EF-2 touched down in Dodge County, and an EF-1 hit southern Bibb County.

April 15-16: 3 tornadoes across the state including an EF-1 in Bibb county about 5 miles north-northwest of Macon.

April 27-28: There were 15 tornadoes across the state. An EF-4 tornado occurred in Catoosa County causing seven fatalities and 30 injuries. There was an EF-3 tornado that crossed Pike, Lamar, Monroe and Butts counties causing two deaths in Lamar County.

The unusually active tornadic spring really boils down to one thing: the exit of La Niña.

La Niña is an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is associated with cooler than normal water in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. It tends to have a rather calming effect on the jet stream and helps keep it further north. But with La Niña gone, the jet stream went berserk!  It got stuck in a very active yet stagnant pattern that allowed low pressure systems to develop day after day.

La Niña also caused the battle of hot vs. cold. It was especially cold this winter in the northern part of the country while unusually hot in the southwest. These extremes provided the fuel for not only more storms, but more intense storms.

Another factor was that the Gulf of Mexico was about 2 degrees warmer than average. That provided warm and moist air, which is one of the main ingredients for severe weather.

The stage was definitely set for abundant tornadic activity this spring and let’s hope this exact set-up doesn’t happen again because it was destructive to the southeast!

--Meteorologist Sonya Stevens


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