Last month I told you how anything can and will happen during the month of February. That was an understatement. I have not seen such wild swings in the weather in decades. It all had to do with the North Pole.
The polar vortex, (which is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both the North and South Poles), split in two because a big blob of warm air high in the atmosphere pushed it off its axis, much like a spinning top wobbling when it slows down, it split into pieces, sending ripple effects on weather across the northern hemisphere. When the polar vortex weakens and wobbles off the pole, pieces of it can split off and swirl southward, affecting the United States, Europe, and Asia, due in large part to this stratospheric temperature spike. The cold and snow were incredible in the nation’s heartland. Actual air temperatures of 30-50 degrees below zero occurred in Alaska, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. For the first time in history, the entire state of Texas was under a winter storm warning. Snow covered the beach in Galveston. We only had a little taste here in north Georgia.
Now we are heading into my least favorite month of the year. March begins tornado season and with the way the weather has been acting this winter, I would suspect the next couple of months very likely to produce some violent storms here. The 30-day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center gives us equal chances of having above or below normal temperatures. However, it does keep us with above normal rainfall. Our average March rainfall is 5.38 inches!
Do you remember March of 2019? On March 3, 2019 a horrible and deadly severe weather system slammed the Southeast. Over the course of six hours, a total of 41 tornadoes touched down across portions of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. I can’t recall how many hours I was on the air with warnings. I knew, watching my radar and tracking these tornadoes, people in the path were not going to fare well. The strongest tornado was an EF 4 and roared over Beauregard, AL to Talbotton, GA. It killed 23 people and injured more than 100. It was the single deadliest tornado since the 2013 Moore, OK EF 5 tornado.
Before that, and I remember this all too well, at least one death and 30 injured by EF 2 tornado in Atlanta. An isolated supercell developed just northwest of the city of Atlanta on the night of March 14, 2008. It just felt weird out that night. It was too warm. A supercell thunderstorm developed in northwest Georgia, strengthening as it moved southeast. The storm produced severe hail in Cobb County, prompting a severe thunderstorm warning. The tornado then tracked over the Georgia World Congress Center, about 100 yards north of the Georgia Dome during the SEC Basketball tournament. In addition, the tornado was bearing down on the CNN/Omni complex and Philips Arena, where an NBA game was underway. The tornado damaged several buildings, including knocking windows out of the Equitable bank tower and the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel. The twister continued to track toward the east, crossing over the I-75/I-85 connector into Oakland Cemetery, damaging warehouses and the Cotton Mill Lofts along the way. The tornado finally lifted just after crossing into extreme western DeKalb County. It no longer showed up on radar but I tracked it for six miles! The NWS survey teams found the damage path was 100 yards wide with winds of 120 miles per hour.
So yes, March is my least favorite month of the year. Let’s be prepared.