It's no secret that we had an unusually mild winter.
In fact, February turned out to be an amazing 9 degrees warmer than normal.
If you're wondering whether this might have some impact on our spring severe weather season, you've got a reason to be concerned. (Keep in mind this was written in February, before our most recent tornadoes).
Severe thunderstorms this time of year start with warm, humid air at the surface being drawn north from near the Gulf of Mexico, usually be a strong low pressure area moving across the plains and Midwest.
Meanwhile, a strong jet stream aloft adds energy and wind shear.
Finally, add some sort of trigger like an approaching cold front, and you've set the stage for a potential severe storm outbreak.
Interestingly, the NWS does not actually issue a "severe storm season" outlook like they do for winter weather or for hurricane season. This is because severe storms depend on smaller-scale features that are harder to forecast more than a week or two out.
But what we do know is that warm, humid weather is an important ingredient of severe storms. And the latest spring temperature outlooks do call for continued "warmer than average" weather. So we think there is a good chance that the spring storm season will start earlier and last longer this year.
To sum up: we've had a warm winter, we're forecasting a warm spring and that may well lead to an earlier and possibly longer "severe storm" season.
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