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Severe Weather Awareness week: How does La Nina affect severe weather season?

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(WAOW) — Knowing the history of severe weather is an important tool for preparing for the worst.

Now, as we finalize the last day of severe weather awareness week, we look at the present and the future to see how many tornadoes have already been witnessed in 2021 and how many could be on the way.

About a month back we looked at the weather setup for 2021 and forecast a more active than usual setup for severe weather and the formation of tornadoes. La Ninas can be identified when trade winds push warm ocean water west towards Asia. This leaves an effect on the jet stream and overall weather set up which makes for wetter conditions to the east and stronger winds in the Midwest during the winter. See more about La Nina here.

A Typical La Nina Jet Stream Pattern

Recent data points the La Nina this year to be turning to a neutral state in the summer, however, we did see a moderate La Nina this winter, similar to the winter of 2010-2011, which introduced the costliest year on record for severe weather. Check the current status of La Nina here.

You may remember that already this season, 2 high risk days were issued in the southeastern United States on March 17 and March 25. This resulted in a total of 59 tornadoes and 6 casualties. To put that in perspective, from 2010 – today, only 25 high risk days have been issued, and only one other was as early as March.

So far this year there have been 249 tornadoes reported in the United States with a total of 179 officially confirmed by the national weather service. This makes it one of the most active early spring seasons on record.

So, while we may not have any tornadoes so far this year in Wisconsin, you should be prepared with your communication source, safe place, and severe weather plan as we head into what could be an active severe season of severe weather.

Jackson Garlock

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