Tornados: Blame them on La Niña

Science Matters

A tornado brews near El Reno, Okla., May 2013. A new study links the frequency of tornadoes and hailstorms in parts of the southern United States to ENSO, a cyclic temperature pattern in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: John Allen

Reported in Science Daily Frequency of tornadoes, hail linked to El Niño, La Niña

“We can forecast how active the spring tornado season will be based on the state of El Niño or La Niña in December or even earlier,” said lead author John Allen, a postdoctoral research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI).

Allen and his coauthors show that moderately strong La Niña events lead to more tornadoes and hail storms over portions of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and other parts of the southern United States. El Niño events act in the opposite manner, suppressing both types of storms in this area.

While the information can’t…

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