Spring is in the air. Flowers and trees continue their wake-up from winter hibernation. Pollen counts are increasing. This is my least favorite season, especially this particular season. As you well know, this is the third year in a row where we continue to have a La Niña weather pattern. The unseasonably cold water off the coast of South America continues to impact the normal global wind patterns. We’ve seen an extraordinary number of tornadoes in the south this past January and February and now severe storms will really ramp up this month. Southerly winds from the Gulf of Mexico will provide a conveyor belt of warmth and tropical moisture over the south, providing a lot of fuel to storms along approaching cold fronts.
In 2022, due to La Niña, we saw about 150 more tornadoes in the country than what would be considered an average year. Here in Georgia, people continue to recover from the unusual January outbreak we saw. On January 12 there were about a dozen tornadoes. The strongest, an EF 3, was in Pike and Spalding counties. The NWS survey showed the path at 31 miles long. Winds in the EF 3 twister were 150 miles per hour. At one point, there were three tornadoes on the ground in Pike and Spalding alone! Some 1,465 homes suffered damage with more than 250 suffering major damage or totally destroyed. Troup and Meriwether counties had EF 2 tornadoes that were also long tracked.
It is very likely we will see increased tornado and severe storm outbreaks this month. Here’s what I need you to do. One day, sit down with your family. Make sure everyone knows where they need to go when a tornado warning is issued. Make sure you all have bike helmets or something to protect your head. A flashlight is also a good idea.
I also would like you to remember that Georgia has two tornado alleys. The northern one runs from Rome to Gainesville, including Lake Lanier.
From 1950 to 2006, this area has seen more than 130 confirmed tornadoes. Please be weather aware this month.