Tornado season is here. It got off to a slow start but now it's in high gear. Joe Terbey was wondering what we look for while predicting a tornado outbreak and how we can predict one days in advance.
When forecasting for a severe weather event you look for abundant moisture and boundaries nearby. Next there has to be enough instability in the atmosphere for the storms to grow up. The most important piece to the tornado puzzle is wind shear. This is wind direction changing with height. If this is not present the tornado threat will be low.
Here is the ideal setup for tornado formation. When a strong upper low pressure system moves in from the west tapping into the warm and muggy air coming off the Gulf look to the east and south for tornado trouble. This is the triple point where the warm front, cold front and dryline meet.
The different air masses coming together will create an invisible horizontal spinning effect.
Rising air called updrafts tilts the rotating air vertically. Before you know it a tornado touches the ground.
The storm prediction center looks at the same parameters and comes out with severe outlooks and use percentages.
They are starting to use four to eight day outlooks then fine tune them as we get closer to the outbreak. The technology and weather modeling have improved greatly over the years so we can see a tornado outbreak coming days in advance.
Email weather questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.