Coming off the heels of a record-setting 2011 storm season, this year has certainly picked up where last year left off. Already in 2012, several outbreaks have left unimaginable devastation and loss of life all over the country, and the calendar has only just turned to April.
April 1 is considered by many to be the unofficial start to storm season. Severe weather researchers, chasers, and anyone else whose lives deal with severe weather, mark April 1 as the start to their operations. But to the rest of the country, storm season is a year-round event. And with outbreaks in the southeast in mid-January, that season began very early for many.
Significant and deadly tornado outbreaks have occurred in the first three months of 2012 with a preliminary count of over 400 tornado reports recorded by the National Weather Service. This almost doubles what the first three months of 2011 had and history will go on from there. While not quiet by any stretch, 2011 had a normal ramp-up of tornadoes going into April when Nature unleashed outbreak after outbreak, including one of the deadliest outbreaks in history dubbed the 2011 Super Outbreak across the southeast. April ended last year with nearly 900 tornadoes reported.
That begs the question, what is in store for 2012? Already we have seen a large number of tornadoes reported nation-wide. Outbreaks have occurred including as recently as Tuesday when an outbreak of tornadoes severely impacted parts of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and amazingly left no fatalities. But unfortunately that hasn’t been the case in the event prior as 19 tornadoes have been killers compared to only two in the first three months of last year. Last year started about average going into April’s rampage and this year is already well above average going into April.
Will the events of the coming months echo last year’s historic Spring, or will things settle down? Looking at the stats from the first three months of this year and last year, it’s hard to imagine this season following the same curve upward, or even remotely compare to the devastation the country saw back in 2011. But the rapid start to the season, several notable outbreaks, and 57 fatalities, it definitely is a scary start to a season coming off the heels of a year that will not soon be forgotten.
Tony Laubach is a professional storm chaser and meteorologist. He has participated in several field research projects, been contracted as a severe weather photojournalist for several major television networks, starred in several television shows, including Seasons 3 and 4 of "Storm Chasers" on Discovery Channel, and also is a hobbyist storm chaser. Tony is a contributor to Tornado Alley Live and KMGH-TV in Denver.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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