Expect more Georgia tornadoes

by Lee Shearer - Morris News Service

ATHENS, Ga. -- There’s a chance Georgia could see more tornadoes and severe thunderstorms than usual this year, according to one tornado expert.

“In the spring, our tornadoes are associated with the clash between warm and moist air masses and cool air masses,” said David Stooksbury, a professor in the University of Georgia’s College of Engineering and the former state climatologist.

And this year, we’ve got lots of that kind of clash going on, because the El Nino-La Nina weather cycle that heavily influences our weather is stuck in neutral.

When that happens, we’re more apt to see the kind of weather we experienced this winter — really cold spells alternating with balmy temperatures, wet with dry.

“We’ve been in that classic neutral pattern where every few days we’ve gone up and down, up and down, up and down,” Stooksbury said. “So you have many of the ingredients for that, and the fact that the weather has been so variable.”

This year reminds Stooksbury of the early 1970s, a time when northeast Georgia got more than their share of tornadoes and storms.

Stooksbury has been uncomfortably prescient this year. The neutral pattern is the kind of pattern that is apt to produce really cold spells, he said shortly before the thermometer went down to 8 degrees in Athens.

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