GREENVILLE, N.C.(WNCT) – It won’t be long before we’re trading in snow and ice for severe thunderstorms. Researchers at Columbia University have released their seasonal severe weather forecast for the spring. Scott Curtis, an atmospheric science professor at East Carolina University, is following the new research.
”The science is really new about tornado seasonality and how to predict that,” says Curtis. “In fact, this tornado season prediction I think this is only the second year they have done it so there’s a lot of uncertainty there.”
This year, forecasters are getting a helping hand from El Niño. The weather phenomenon is expected to linger into spring, shifting the usual severe weather hotspot from the central part of the country to the Deep South.
”It may prevent some storms from forming off in the Colorado Rockies or in the Plains that may affect places like Oklahoma and the Great Plains,” says Curtis.
The forecast calls for a 54% chance of a below-normal number of tornadoes and a 71% chance of fewer than normal hailstorms across the southern U.S. this spring. On average, the U.S. sees over a thousand tornadoes a year, 31 of those right here in North Carolina. According to the forecast, places like Florida and Georgia face a better chance of above average severe weather this spring than we do.
”They’re still rare events here in eastern North Carolina,” says Curtis. “And since El Niños themselves are sort of rare events as well, it’s really hard to kind of match these things up.”
But as we all know, it only takes one. So make sure you’re ready.
Last year, the seasonal forecast did exceptionally well, forecasting near normal severe weather.