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Almost one third of Texas tornadoes hit in May

May is by far the worst month for tornadoes in Texas. 30% of the state’s tornadoes hit in May, followed by 18% in April.

Four days ago, on April 28, a Manor house had part of its roof ripped off by an EF-1 tornado. 110-mile-per-hour winds also knocked down fences and damaged cars. It was a costly reminder that April and May are when almost half of the state’s tornadoes blow through.

“In terms of the total number of tornadoes, so far to this point in the year, we’re basically dead on with the average over the last 10 to 20 years,” said Dr. Chris Nowotarski, an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University.

Nowotarski is studying the impact of climate change on tornadoes. The latest data shows the number of twisters in the United States is not changing. What is different is where they are touching down.

“There are signs of less tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma, where we normally think of tornado alley, and more tornadoes in sort of the mid-south and southeastern United States like Alabama, Arkansas,” said Nowotarski.

ALSO | Strong storms & heavy rain to impact Central Texas

An EF-3 tornado just hit Nebraska. Unlike Texas, it is a little early for tornadoes in that state, which is consistent with the latest research.

“We are actually seeing some signs that we’re getting maybe less tornadoes in the spring and summer when we’re normally used to seeing them, and then more in the fall and winter. So, we are seeing this broadening in time of tornado season,” said Nowotarski.

One of the top priorities of the Texas A&M research team is to give the public more confidence in tornado warnings.

“One of our goals is to eliminate the unnecessary warnings and increase the lead times for the warnings that do produce tornadoes,” said Nowotarski.

Improvements in radar networks and computer modeling have more weak tornadoes being detected than ever before. Nowotarski thinks the next big advance will be a better understanding of which weather conditions warrant a warning for people to take cover.

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