BLOG: Wildfires are up, tornadoes are down - | WBTV Charlotte

BLOG: Wildfires are up, tornadoes are down

National Climate Data Center National Climate Data Center
NOAA NOAA

Nobody is surprised to hear this has been a warm year, globally, regionally and locally. Much of that can be attributed to the strong El Nino that developed in 2016. To review, El Nino is a cyclical warming of the eastern Pacific ocean off the west coast of South America. 

All that warm water heats the atmosphere which expands and impacts the weather patterns around the entire northern hemisphere. 

As the United States heats up, it pushes the jet stream northward into Canada during the summer. The jet stream powers the bigger storms systems as they move along that energetic river of air. That also explains why the severe weather shifts northward during the summer too, leaving the southern states to broil in sunshine and only scattered localized storms. 

Because the warm and dry pattern extended deep into the Fall Season, the US has not experienced its typical secondary peak of severe storms and tornadoes during November. In fact, as of Thanksgiving, only one lonely tornado has struck the US this month, and we would typically expect 58 during November. 

The year started off close to average as our tornado production remained near normal through May and then really flattened out thereafter. Right now our yearly total is 830 which is on pace for a record low year for tornadoes. The average at this point in the year is around 1,200. 

Things could still change if the jet streams drops back into our heartland and heats up in December. Stay tuned!

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