What is in this article?:
- Above normal tornado numbers expected in 2012
- Uptick in numbers possible
- Warmer-than-normal Gulf of Mexico water is a key component to the active severe weather season anticipated in 2012.
- There will be a sufficient supply of warm and humid air to fuel supercell thunderstorms, the type of storms that spawn strong tornadoes, because of the warm Gulf water.
Uptick in numbers possible
"Areas that seemed to miss out on frequent severe weather last year may see an uptick this year," AccuWeather.com Exert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said regarding the difference in pattern.
The mid-Mississippi and upper Ohio valleys are among the zones that may get hit more frequently by severe weather this year. Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan are included in this zone.
It is highly unlikely that the exact same areas of the Deep South that were struck by tragic tornado outbreaks in 2011 will be hit as hard again this year. However, there could be some damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Gulf States this season.
The Deep South, including the Gulf States and eastern Texas, is expected to get hit by severe weather early in the season, mainly in March.
By early April, the severe weather threat will retreat to the north, reaching the lower Ohio and mid-Mississippi valleys, according to Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team.
"If I were in the South or Ohio Valley, I'd be extra prepared this year," Mike Smith, senior vice-president of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions cautioned.
Whether tornadoes hit highly populated areas like they did last year is harder to pin-point. "There is no way to know if it (2012) will be as active as last year. Last year we had two unfortunate occurrences simultaneously: a larger-than-normal number of tornadoes plus tornadoes hitting densely populated areas.
“There is no way to know if the cities are going to be hit in the same number as last year. If so, it could be another deadly year," Smith said.