Active Tornado Season Not Slowing Up

By: Rodney Harris Email
By: Rodney Harris Email

Tornadoes -- they're big, loud, and destructive among other things.

“I can’t describe it. It’s just one of those things you know when you see them, you’re just speechless," said Ken Kilbourn, a veteran storm chaser.

And the amount of sever weather reported this year has simply been off the charts. Which is something that has certainly kept forecasters at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK pretty busy.

Before, during, and after a severe storm happens, any information regarding that one event flows into and out of the storm prediction center.

"It’s been an extremely busy severe weather season," said Storm Prediction Center Director Joe Schaefer. "It seems to have started in early October of last year, and we have had tornado outbreak after tornado outbreak."

With the season only halfway over, already there have been close to 1600 reports of tornado touchdowns. And while some of those reports may be duplicates, forecasters say even reducing that number by 50 percent still puts the country on a record-breaking pace. And barring any major changes, it looks as if that old record could be blown away.

"The position of the jet stream more of less dictates where severe weather goes. And the jet has been more less positioned running right up the midsection of the country, from Texas to Wisconsin. Day after day, it’s just been locked in there," Schaefer said.

Forecasters in the center have been able to give the public enough advance warning of the disastrous storms to keep casualties low this year. But they’re still trying to find ways to better understand what storms exactly are going to do.

Similar to what Bill Paxton did in the blockbuster hit "Twister", scientists are trying to figure out what exactly makes a storm -- and tornadoes, importantly -- act the way it does.

But forecasters at the SPC don't think they'll need any Hollywood magic to try and figure it out.

"Hopefully we’ll be able to give a forecast in a 3 or 4 mile range, and you know, here’s where’s the tornado is going to be and be able to say there’s a 60 percent chance of a tornado in this area between 5 and 6 o’clock," Schaefer said.

Their concern for now, however, will stay on keeping everyone safe through this tumultuous season.

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