The approach of spring also means the approach of tornado season for east Mississippi and west Alabama. As last year showed, it is important to be prepared for when severe weather strikes.
April 27, 2011, was a once-in-a-generation type day, where almost every thunderstorm that developed produced a tornado. While it was on the extreme side as far as tornado outbreaks, severe weather events are fairly often in the twin states.
The EF-3 tornado that hit just outside of DeKalb April 15 was a better example of what we typically see in a given tornado season.
What makes this area so prone to tornado outbreaks? Well, we can thank the Gulf of Mexico for one, and also thank the spring and fall weather patterns for setting up ideal scenarios for tornadoes.
For tornadoes, we need warm, moist air, which the Gulf of Mexico abundantly supplies, and cold, preferably dry air, which we can usually get in spring, due to it being still cold enough to the north.
If an area of low pressure tracks just off to our north, right through the Memphis area, that allows our surface winds to be from the southeast, a necessary ingredient in tornado formation.
With added help from the jet stream, we create an environment capable of producing a tornado.
Tornado season is typically March, April and May, with a secondary tornado season in the fall of the year.