WHILE IT'S CALM, LET'S TALK TORNADOES....
While we have some calmer weather over the next couple of days, I thought we'd talk about some twister stats. I came across some pretty interesting images from a ustornadoes.com article today. Here's a map of all of the Tornado Warnings that have been issued in the U.S. this year (as of April 20th).
There has already been nearly 1,000 warnings so far this year... and this number will be going up. As I type, severe weather is ongoing in Texas and Oklahoma where tornadoes have been reported Friday evening. For comparison, here's last year's map:
Warnings will likely exceed 2016 and we're not even halfway through the year (or halfway through severe weather season)! The article goes back to 2008 and compares the number of warnings issued. You can read the full article here.
One of the bigger points brought up was about technology. Technology has led to advancements in severe weather: fewer false alarms (Tornado Warnings that don't actually produce tornadoes) and longer lead time for tornadoes. Still - there are false alarms and there are still tornadoes that go undetected by radar (and therefore unwarned). These concerns have even made it into legislation:
H.R. 353 was signed into law and, aside from the bullet points above, there is a focus on closing the gaps in radar data and increasing warning times for tornadoes. You can read the full text of the bill here. This all comes as meteorologists are eagerly waiting to use the newest satellite technology, GOES-16:
This is a shot I snagged on Wednesday night where you can see the cold front in western Iowa and thunderstorms beginning to bubble ahead of it. This data is still preliminary as the satellite is being tested but the satellite should be operational before the end of the year. This is important equipment because it has a higher resolution and scans faster than any satellite before! This year it would come in handy considering we've had the fastest start to severe weather season (in terms of number of tornadoes) since 2008.
In Iowa alone there have been 19 tornadoes so far in 2017, 6 of which being EF-2s.
Compare this to 2016 when there were 43 tornadoes for the whole year and only 2 EF-2s (and none stronger than that). We haven't even reached the peak season for tornadoes in Iowa, which is in May and June. Does this mean it will be a season like 2008? Does this mean we will have more tornadoes? Only time will tell.
Good news is, I'm not anticipating severe weather in the Upper Midwest over the next few days and it will be nice and calm through the weekend. I'll leave you with the next seven days on the GFS showing a few systems moving through the Midwest late next week. Cooler air will be in place so the threat of severe weather should be rather low.
Have a great weekend!