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Kirk Mellish's Weather Commentary

Posted: 4:43 p.m. Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tornado season in Georgia 

Tornado statistics and trends
Storm Prediction Center/NOAA tornado stats to date.

By Kirk Mellish

Back on March 7th when I posted my long-range outlook for spring and the early peek at the coming summer I wrote:

" wouldn’t start any gardening just yet even in Florida, I think the odds are high for a late frost or freeze this season, based on how deep the troughs can be, and how much cold air and snowpack is still left up north, and the sea surface temp anomalies are still aligned to keep repeating this pattern. At some point, Spring has to hit and hold, right? Maybe not for good until May.

The only ray of sunshine is that the cold winter and start to spring has chilled the gulf waters and that means less humidity to fuel severe weather at the start of severe weather season, and the cool start to spring should put a damper on tornado season making for a late start and/or a non-active season, certainly a later one at the very least.

Concerns for a cool Summer are growing, but most models currently show a hot dry one. I’d place no money down on that yet.

The preliminary expectation for the coming summer in Georgia is for temperatures June-August to average warmer than normal, with below-average rainfall. But El Nino developments could change that, so check back for updates.   


For the spring, past years that look similar are: 1950,1959, 1956, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013.

For the summer, analogs from past summers that may be like the coming one are: 1957, 2002, 2009, 1982, 1975, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1990, 2003. As the spring evolves and the oceans change these analog years will be refined".

I do not currently see any reason for any big changes. And as the chart shows, tornado season is off to a quiet start this season. Indeed severe weather season has been muted nationwide. The March trends look to continue for April. Things should pick up in May as more sustained and substantial warmth finally comes on and holds alowing for more thunderstorms. This does not mean there can't or won't be some severe weather in Georgia in April, particularly hail.

However, the average to below average monthly temperature regime in the mean and the cooler than normal Gulf of Mexico waters (meaning less moisture/latent heat energy to fuel lots of storms) should keep the trend of quieter severe weather seasons going that dates back to about 2005, slow starts that is to say, and the total tornado count will probably be below the 10-year average as well. Good news if correct. That is the upside to the nation having chilly winters and springs.

Through March 26, only six tornadoes have been confirmed across the nation. Preliminary (unconfirmed reports) is only 54 tornadoes through March 26 for the whole nation.

The lowest March U.S. tornado count on record dating to 1950 was six tornadoes in March 1951. 

If this sounds familiar, March of last year was the least tornadic March in 35 years, with only 18 tornadoes.

Slow starts do not mean there will not be any notable outbreaks or destructive tornadoes, almost every year has some somewhere in the U.S.

Here is a fun new site to explore past tornadoes where you live, or anywhere:

Kirk Mellish

About Kirk Mellish

Kirk Mellish is Atlanta's first and only full-time radio meteorologist. He's also the FIRST broadcast meteorologist in Georgia and the Southeast to earn the American Meteorological Society's new Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) designation.

Send Kirk Mellish an email.



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