STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Even with the recent storm system
causing devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama,
2014 has seen a slow start to the tornado season.
In fact, this year has had the slowest start, meaning it is
the latest in the year a fatality by a tornado has occurred, since 1950, said
Mike Smith, senior vice president of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions.
Unfortunately, that streak was broken April 25 when a child
in North Carolina died, Smith said.
The reason for the slow start was the unusually cold air
that has been extremely persistent east of the Rocky Mountains. When warm, moist
air finally moved north, passing low-pressure storms could trigger tornadoes,
“Mother Nature did its thing — only six weeks later than
usual,” he said.
The busiest time of the year for tornadoes usually occurs
between April and July, said Dave Tucek, meteorologist with the National Weather
The most-violent tornadoes seem to appear in April, while
the largest appear in June, he said.
Although there has been a slow start to the season, things
could pick up speed in the next two months.
“Because temperatures have been slow to recover in the
Midwest, we could see a very fierce May and June,” Smith said.
Although it’s hard to predict what the rest of the year will
hold, there is potential that tornado numbers will be below average, Smith said.
Even with the low-pressure system sweeping several states
and triggering tornadoes at the end of April, the tornado count is well below
where it usually is, Tucek said.
“But as we saw last year when we had 30 tornadoes, all it
takes is one instance like Nov. 17 to jump above average,” he said.
Indiana usually has about 22 tornadoes a year. Between 1961
and 1990, the average deaths per year were seven.
Although late spring and early summer are a big time for
tornadoes, they can happen any time in the year, said Steve Pryor, expert senior
forensic meteorologist with AccuWeather.
“In Indiana, a tornado has occurred in every possible
month,” he said.
Because of this, Smith suggests people review their safety
“The time to review the plan is when the sky is sunny,” he
Families should watch warnings and have a plan of where to
go in the event of a tornado. The best place during a tornado is an interior
room on the lowest level of a building.
Families also should stock those places with a flashlight,
bottles of water, an old pair of shoes and any precious heirlooms.
Because May and June are known to produce tornadoes, the
weather reports should be watched closely.
Tornado warnings have gotten far more accurate and because
of that need to be paid close attention in the coming months, Smith said.