Stories tagged severe weather

May
12
2008

Tornado chasing: Tornado chasers in Attica, Kansas, captured a tornado passing by their equipment.
Tornado chasing: Tornado chasers in Attica, Kansas, captured a tornado passing by their equipment.Courtesy Center for Severe Weather Research
With the forces of nature kicking up violently all over the globe in recent days –– an earthquake in China, typhoon in Myanmar and volcano eruption in Chile – getting somewhat overlooked is the rash of tornadoes already this season in the United States.

A total of 98 people have died from damage caused by tornadoes in the U.S. already this year, making it the deadliest tornado season since 1998, with a lot more months of twister action to come. This year already ranks as the seventh most deadly tornado season since records began being kept in 1950.

What’s giving with all of this? As our TV meteorologists always like to remind us, it’s due to the jet stream.

That movement of air at high altitudes has been ideal for tornadoes this year, mixing warm, wet air from the Gulf of Mexico with colder-than-normal air from the Great Lakes region. Here's a cool interactive graphic that shows how tornadoes brew up.

Traditionally, May is the peak month for tornadoes in the southern U.S. while July is the prime time for twisters in the north.

Jan
18
2007

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: Starting on Oct. 1, the National Weather Service will not be issuing severe weather warnings on a county basis. Rather, it will mark the area at risk for tornadoes, thunderstorms and other severe weather by geographical landmarks.
Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: Starting on Oct. 1, the National Weather Service will not be issuing severe weather warnings on a county basis. Rather, it will mark the area at risk for tornadoes, thunderstorms and other severe weather by geographical landmarks.
It used to drive me nuts.

Before I moved to St. Paul a couple years ago, I lived in a large county north of the Twin Cities. When severe stormy weather arose in one part of the county, the sirens would sound, even if the part of the county I lived in was calm and sunny.

That’s all going to change this fall.

The National Weather Service has announced that starting on Oct. 1, it will no longer be issuing severe weather warnings on a county-wide basis. Instead, it will be delineating storm warning areas by geographic landmarks, such as highways and rivers. Storms situations covered by the new warning system include tornadoes, thunderstorms, flash floods and marine hazards.

Watches will still cover entire counties, but those aren’t the conditions when the weather service sounds emergency alarms to take cover.

Even worse than my former personal situation north of the Twin Cities, under the old county-based storm warning system in some parts of the U.S., people could be alerted to a storm and still be more than 100 miles away from the action.

Weather Service Director David Johnson hopes that the new system won’t make people get complacent.
"I do not want to teach America to ignore warnings," Johnson said, so under the new program, "if you get the warning, there is a direct correlation to you being at risk."

Do you think you’ll be able to adjust to the new system? Remember, it doesn’t start until the fall, so any storms we have yet this summer will be reported under the old county-alerting system.