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Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Season

Contributed by James Bria, CCM, CompuWeather Sr. Forensic Meteorologist, Weather Expert & Certified Consulting Meteorologist

2010_tornadoes_stovepipeThe peak time for severe thunderstorms season in the Great Plains is currently upon us. A severe thunderstorms is considered any thunderstorm with winds in excess of 57 mph, hail of 1 inch or greater and/or tornadoes. This season had gotten off to a slower and later start than usual but has been picking up over the past few weeks. This delayed beginning is mostly due to the strength and longevity of this past winter season. The very cold air has lingered much longer and later than during past years. In fact, areas of Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota are still seeing winter storms. Severe thunderstorms develop as of a result of the precise mix of hot and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, cold air from Canada and a warm or cold front to provide the lifting mechanism. Without these three ingredients, these severe thunderstorms will not develop. Usually, the severe thunderstorm season begins in Texas in April then slowly migrates north and into the Dakotas by June. It remains to be seen if the late start to the season will mean it will linger longer or if the season will be shorter than normal. It really will just depend on when the cold air finally retreats back into northern Canada.