Wednesday, December 06, 2023

It's now a below-normal season for tropical storms and tornadoes

| August 15, 2022 1:06 AM

We’ve seen extreme weather patterns in the spring with practically a complete flip to the other extreme in recent months. For example, the U.S. had the most active start to the tornado season in March. According to the Storm Prediction Center, there were 232 confirmed tornadoes reported in the United States in March. The 30-year normal for that month is approximately 75 twisters.

In an average year, there are about 1,200 tornadoes sighted in the U.S. As of the weekend, there have been 1,010 preliminary reports of tornadoes in the U.S., but only 777 have been confirmed. After the record number of twisters in March, it was looking like a very active season once again. However, the activity slowed down significantly later in the spring and into the summer, which has now led to a below-normal tornado season. In addition to tornadoes in the U.S., there have also been reports of these severe storms in Canada, Malaysia, Europe, China, Indonesia and Puerto Rico.

Despite the below-normal season thus far, there have been seven major outbreaks of tornadoes across the country since the beginning of the year. The worst one, in terms of number of twisters, occurred from March 29-31 across the southern and eastern portions of the country. This outbreak produced 90 confirmed tornadoes with three EF3 twisters. The Midwestern outbreak in early March, and another outbreak in early April across the southern U.S. each produced one EF4 tornado. For the 2022 season, there has not been an EF5, the highest on the scale.

As far as the 2022 tropical storm and hurricane season, there have only been a below-normal three named storms. The peak of the season is around early-to-mid September, but unless activity starts to pick up in the next several weeks, we’re going to have to lower our estimates of tropical storms and hurricanes for this season of at least 17 named storms.

The forecasts were largely based on the La Nina sea-surface temperature pattern of cooler-than-normal ocean waters along the Equator. However, La Nina has weakened in the last month, which could be one of the reasons for the lack of tropical storms and hurricanes. It’s still possible that we see a big rise in the number of named storms between now and early September as ocean waters near Africa, where many of these storms will form, have been warming, plus ocean waters are still cooler than average along the Equator.

The official date the tropical storm and hurricane season begins is on June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Based on the 30-year average from 1991 to 2020, there is a new average of about 14 named storms. Seven of those storms become hurricanes with three of them in the “major” Category 3 or above.

In other weather news, in drought-stricken Death Valley, nearly a year’s worth of rain was reported last Friday of nearly 1.50 inches, compared to the seasonal normal of 1.90 inches. The heavy rains resulted in flash floods that stranded about 1,000 visitors to the National Park. Much of the rain in California was concentrated over the desert areas in the southeastern part of the state. The northern, central and the southern coastal portions of California remained dry with very warm to hot temperatures.

In the central portions of the country, it’s been the case of either too much rain east of the Mississippi River, or it’s been too dry to the west for many of our farmer clients. The northern portions of the country and parts of southern Canada have been receiving moisture along with severe weather in recent months. Despite the increased rainfall in the southwestern portion of the country, much of the region is still experiencing severe drought conditions.

In terms of our local weather, there was a strong thunderstorm across eastern Washington and North Idaho last week. The heaviest activity was mostly to the north and east of our region. I saw reports of at least an inch-and-a-half sized hail. After a brief cool-down over the weekend, high temperatures in Coeur d’Alene and surrounding regions are expected to climb back into 90s once again. It’s also possible that we could challenge the 100-degree mark over the next several days.

The rest of the month should continue to have very warm to hot temperatures across the Inland Northwest with only the chance of a few showers or an isolated thunderstorm. However, the chances for more moisture should increase in late August or early September. The long-range computer models are beginning to show some signs of that trend.

SPECIAL NOTE: One of our Coeur d’Alene Press dedicated weather observers, John Smith, recently passed away. John provided daily weather observations from Hayden since 2005 and his data was extremely valuable, especially during the winter season. We would like to express our sincerest condolences to his wife, family and friends.

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Contact Randy Mann at

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