Fewer tornados due to drought - FOX 32 News Chicago

Fewer tornados due to drought

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The great drought of 2012 continues to build coast-to-coast and while most of the news related to the dry conditions is bad there is at least one bit of good news, less tornadoes.

We started the year January through March with a record number of tornadoes, but just as quickly that trend reversed and April through July has seen near record low numbers of twisters. In fact, July may see the lowest number of tornadoes on record for that month.

The United States is the #1 location on Earth for the number of tornadoes, but this year-to-date we are below 25% of normal tornadoes for the year as outlined on the chart below provided by NOAA.

The main atmospheric reason behind the lack of tornadoes is the huge dome of high pressure which has been in place over much of the U.S. this spring and summer. That dome of hot air is perfect for making a drought, but not for making tornadoes.

The necessary ingredient of heat has been plentiful; however, a fast jet stream, directional or speed wind shear and high humidity are absent. Increasingly dry soil conditions have also hampered atmospheric instability by not releasing additional moisture into the air.

Instead of tornadoes, we have endured a higher than normal number of extreme 80-100 mph wind events known as derechos, microbursts and straight-line winds like the one pictured below that swept from Chicago across the Ohio Valley in late June.

Additional credit to ClimateCentral.org.

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