Tornado Forecast for 2020

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Tornado Season 2020 Arriving Soon

The recent F4 tornado near Nashville, Tennessee reminds us that the 2020 Tornado season is underway. That storm caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and claimed 25 lives, while badly injuring many more.

The unpredictability of tornados makes it difficult for communities to respond. Tornado sirens were deployed, but much too late for the residents of Nashville, Cookeville, and Juliet. And in the US southern states, tornadoes can happen any time of the year. For some regions in the south near the Gulf of Mexico, tornados are a constant threat.

Tornados that occur at night time are twice as deadly.

Nashville Tornado 2020

The unpredictability of Tornadic activity is due to localized weather events and storms. Certain cities and states have much higher rates, so we can say that there will be devastating Tornadoes happening in southern and mid western cities in 2020.

Last year The NWS Storm Prediction Center reported a whopping 1,422 tornadoes in 2019.  They state that there are between 1,253 and 1,297 tornadoes each year in the United States.

Typically, Tornadoes kill about 80 people each year, but only 49 lost their lives in the 2019 season.

What Causes Tornadoes to Form?

According to weather.gov, a tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground.  The most destructive and deadly tornadoes start within giant, rotating thunderstorms called supercells.  They are viewed as a well-defined radar circulation which is called a mesocyclone. Tornado formation is believed to be caused by a variety of elements around the mesocyclone.

Tornados happen when wind at the ground moves in a different direction and speed than the air above. This  change in wind speed and direction and height is called wind shear which develops from the mesocyclone.

The worst storms in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Tornado alley occur when warm moist winds from the Gulf of Mexico move northward to collide with cool dry jet stream winds from the Great Plains moving south and eastward.

Forecast for 2020 Tornado Season

It could be a bad spring and summer ahead for severe weather. AccuWeather forecasts a normal to slightly above-normal number of tornadoes in 2020.  They believe about 1,350 to 1,450 tornados will hit this year, about 5% to 155 more than the annual average.

Tornadoes are happening already in the south, but the most intense month is May.

Tennessee Tornado 2020

Devastation of Oklahoma Tornado

The deadly EF4 Tornado of 2013 in Oklahoma brought 200 mph winds to wipe neighborhoods away and killing dozens.

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When Do Tornadoes Occur?

Mid to late afternoon is the high time for Tornadic activity.

When do Tornadoes Happen? Screenshot courtesy of NOA.gov

When do Tornadoes Happen in Tornado Alley? Screenshot courtesy of NOA.gov

In the Tornado alley region, time of day is later, in late afternoon from 4 to 7 pm.

Tornado watches are more frequent in the US south, in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

How Many Tornadoes Occur in the US annually? Screenshot courtesy of NOA.gov

May is the month of most tornadoes occurring.

How Many Tornadoes Happen in the US on average each month? Screenshot courtesy of NOA.gov

Based on these facts, we can say that these states will be in for another active season.  Weather throughout the US heartland was very cold this winter, which means much of the cold air in the arctic was blown out.  This may mean hotter, more humid temperatures, but also may mean fewer cold fronts coming down from the north to create huge Tornado events.

Of course, actual Tornado activity and size/destructive power of Tornados in 2020, can’t be foreseen.

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