If you haven‘t heard as much about tornadoes this year, that‘s because there haven‘t been as many as usual.
Nationwide, 610 tornadoes have been confirmed by the National Weather Service so far this year. Typically, more than a thousand tornadoes have hit by now, putting the U.S. on pace to have the fewest twisters in at least a decade. In Indiana, the number is as low as anyone can remember.
“Only four tornadoes have been confirmed across this state this year,” said Dan McCarthy, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Indianapolis. “We‘ve only had 59-percent of the number of tornadoes that we‘ve normally had by this time of year.
45 people have died in tornadoes in the U.S. in 2013 – 42 of those deaths took place in the month of May. 24 were from one storm; the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. Weather patterns that the country sees occasionally are the reason for the low numbers.
“A trough of low pressure that set up during the spring kept our spring and our summer cool for the most part, forcing most of the tornadic activity to north Texas, Oklahoma, and parts of Kansas and Nebraska,” said McCarthy. Since some attribute spikes in storms to global climate change, can a drop in tornadoes also be caused by changes in the climate? McCarthy says both are difficult to link.
“When you compare tornadoes and the small scale in which they happen, in the whole scheme of things it‘s much (more difficult to tie) to climate change.” While the U.S. is officially on pace to have its lowest number of tornadoes since the early 1950‘s, McCarthy says such comparisons are not necessarily fair. “In the ‘50‘s, we didn‘t have the spotter network nor the radar to really go after where tornadoes have occurred.
No, with our larger populations in states, especially east of the Mississippi River around the cities, you more have to compare with what‘s happened since 1970.” Still, McCarthy says this could be one of the most quiet tornado years since then. However, the year isn‘t over yet.
“We do have a second tornado season around here, and that‘s in the fall when the warm air is being pushed out by weather patterns that bring stronger cold fronts into our area,” McCarthy said.