If you’re like most of us, the word ‘tornado’ conjures up images of the country’s midsection–Oklahoma, Kansas, northern Texas–especially in the spring. November, it turns out, is the second season. We’re following up on the twister that hit near Wilmington, N.C.–which seems like just the wrong place for tornadoes, right near the Atlantic. Not so.
I had a quick talk with Dan McCarthy at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. He said the same thing is happening now that happens in the spring–cold fronts from the north and west, colliding with the warm muggy air that comes up from the Gulf of Mexico. Actually, it can happen any time of year, in any place where such violent collisions happen in the atmosphere. Flat terrain helps, but you can even get a rare tornado in hill country. We have a good graphic HERE. And the Storm Prediction Center can be found HERE. This evening, their map shows the front pushing into the northeast. McCarthy said that if you’re counting tornadoes, this actually has been a pretty average year. As of this afternoon, they’d had 1,268 reports of tornadoes since Jan. 1 (not all of them confirmed). Typically, by this date in November, they’ve had had about 1,200. Pretty average–unless you’re in a place that got hit.