The last month or two has treated us to some nice weather across the Tennessee Valley – some would even say too nice, as a drought continues to build across the area. But it doesn’t take a veteran weather watcher to know just what this climatological region is capable of. Our summers are hot, humid, and often wet – our falls, dry and cool. But perhaps most important and most relevant to many long-time residents in the area is the severe weather this part of the country is known for.
It’s no secret that the Tennessee Valley has seen it’s share of severe weather throughout history – one only needs to look back a little over 10 years to see that our area was host to among the worst outbreaks in history. But lesser appreciated is the fact that this Spring timeframe is not the only time of year that frequents severe weather. In fact, depending on who you ask, one could make the argument that severe weather season begins around now – in November. The month itself isn’t a stranger to tornadic activity. The attached map shows historical tornado tracks from the month of November, and a quick glance reveals that, not only have there been dozens of tornadoes, but many of them (if not a majority!) have been on the stronger end of the spectrum of tornadoes ( F/EF-2+ in intensity).
Beyond the historical, notable tracks, the statistics themselves reveal the way severe weather season trends tend to work in this region – as mentioned at the beginning, we’ve been unsurprisingly quiet as we’ve ended Summer and headed into Fall. As we head into Winter, however, the pattern usually begins a notable shift into an “active” jet stream. With these systems, winds are often being pulled out of the Gulf, saturating us with warm, humid air (even in Winter, as we’ve seen plenty of times before). These winds also inherently provide the wind shear necessary for storm development, and this type of active jet stream pattern is often a hallmark of both Winter and Spring. This is why in some sense, the tornado season can really be classified as being November – May, and not split up into sections. Moreover, this fall segment of the season often presents its own challenges unique to this part of the year.
Look no further than the decreasing daylight, for example, in the late parts of the year – it may seem innocuous, but the peak hours for severe weather often fall later in the afternoon and throughout the evening (though this is not strictly always so). Combine this with the often hazy, high-precipitation form of severe thunderstorms, and the danger of not being able to see these storm just adds on to the already inherent risk of these storms existing around populated areas to begin with. This, among PLENTIFUL other reasons, proves the necessity of HEEDING WARNINGS!
Our free Tennessee Valley Weather app is one of many ways you can stay safe and informed on days that prove dangerous, from Winter to Spring to anything in-between. It may sound repetitive and cliché at this point, but there is a reason we repeat so often the various ways you can keep you and your family safe during severe weather, and it is exactly that – you stay SAFE. It’s never a fun thought, but being prepared for a bad situation can save your and your loved ones lives, and history has proven time and time again that proper protocols being in place during severe weather of type will ensure you and yours will get through the worst of what mother nature throws at us.