Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

March 5, 2012

Warm winter may have spurred tornado oubreak

WASHINGTON — National Weather Service officials said Saturday this week's tornado outbreaks in the South and Midwest set records for twisters in March, and that tornado alley should brace for more of the same in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday's series of more than 50 tornadoes in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois combined with Friday's round of more than 85 from Alabama to Indiana and Ohio rank as the new high for number of twisters in March.

The Friday series is also the largest one-day outbreak of tornadoes in the month.

Usually, the tornado season doesn't start until later in March, picking up steam in April, May and ending in early June.

But Weather Service experts said this year's warmer-than-usual winter had an effect on weather conditions because of the lack of snow to cool warmer wind patterns as they move north.

Chris Darden, a Weather Service meteorologist, said both rounds of tornadoes this week were caused by warm, humid air from the south clashing with fast-moving cool fronts coming down from the north.

He said tornado alley and those states near it should prepare for more such severe weather as the tornado season progresses.

"This isn't the last of it," said Darden.

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