It's time for severe weather in Oklahoma

BY BRYAN PAINTER bpainter@opubco.com Published: March 27, 2011
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— In records dating to 1950, there have been 16 confirmed tornadoes in January in Oklahoma, 24 in December and 50 or more in each of the other months.

So, at the National Weather Service's Norman Forecast Office, preparations are for “when” severe weather occurs, not “if.”

However, there are certain times of the year the “when” is a little more likely, and we're currently in it: Of the tornadoes recorded in Oklahoma since 1950, 66 percent have occurred from March to May.

That doesn't mean Oklahomans should live in fear of severe weather, said Mike Foster, the meteorologist in charge with the National Weather Service in Norman. Instead, he said: Respect severe weather.

The Rocky Mountains funnel cold, dry air from Canada into this state. That air mixes with warm, moist air traveling north from the Gulf of Mexico. If the conditions mix with a southern-dipping jet stream providing upward vertical motion, tornadoes are possible.

“Where we live, from San Antonio (north) along the I-35 corridor ... up to Minneapolis, and all along that corridor in there, population just gets larger and larger and spreads out more and more and the frequency of the severe weather events is not changing,” Foster said. “The targets are just growing and growing and growing. And it's just a matter of when something's going to hit.”

Knowit: Severe Weather

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