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The No Tornado Streak Has Ended in Oklahoma and Kansas
Published: April 18, 2019
Tornadoes have torn across parts of the South and Ohio Valley so far this year, but two states often synonymous with spring tornadoes – Kansas and Oklahoma – did not see their first report of a tornado until April 17.
(MORE: Tornado Central
On April 17, severe thunderstorms developed in portions of the Plains and produced 7 reports of tornadoes in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, according to the Storm Prediction Center. These were the first reports of tornadoes in Kansas and Oklahoma in 2019.
Nationwide, through April 15, there had been 252 reports of tornadoes, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. The average number of tornadoes year-to-date is 348, based on data from 2005 through 2015.
(NOAA/Storm Prediction Center)
In Oklahoma, 16.8 tornadoes on average occurs in the first four months of the year.
Last year saw a quiet start as well. The state's first tornado of 2018 was not reported until May 2, which set a new Oklahoma record for latest first tornado.
The lack of tornadoes in the Sooner State is noteworthy given that is is usually a favorable area for development in the early spring. There are only three years since 1950 where no tornadoes have been reported in Oklahoma in April: 1987, 1988 and 2018.
April 2012 was the most tornadic April on record with 54.
The average date of the first tornado in Kansas is March 25, based on data from 1990 through 2018. Kansas didn't see its first tornado until May 1 last year, the latest such occurrence since 1990.
The latest first tornado of the year on record in Kansas was May 28, 1980.
Why the Lack of Tornadoes?
The upper-level weather pattern is partly responsible for the lack of tornadoes in these states. A southward dip in the jet stream has been persistent in the central U.S. this year and has allowed periods of colder-than-average temperatures to surge southward into the Plains and Midwest.
The chilly conditions reduce the amount of moisture available, and the position of the jet stream has not resulted in a favorable track for low-pressure systems to bring severe weather into much of the Plains.
Warmer temperatures and above-average precipitation are expected heading into late April in Kansas and Oklahoma, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. This could result in an increase in severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.
A quiet start to the year does not mean you can let your guard down.
Tornado activity typically increases in May, and on average May and June see the most U.S. tornadoes, followed by April.
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