Tornado activity shift puzzles scientists

WEST LAFAYETTE — Tornado season, generally spanning from March to June, is upon us. There were more than 130 reports of tornadoes across the country during the last two weeks of May, and earlier this year, 23 people were killed in a cluster of tornadoes near the border of Georgia and Alabama. Although tornado deaths…

Supercell: It’s the king of thunderstorms

Tornadoes are one of the most feared weather events on Earth. These quick-forming and normally short-lived cyclones tend to emerge from strongly rotating thunderstorms known as supercells. Driven by a long-lasting tower of rising air, these storms can unleash some of the fastest surface winds on Earth. Rising as much as 16.1 kilometers (10 miles)…

One day, 199 tornadoes

In 2011, an outbreak—not of disease, but of tornadoes—slammed through a large swath of the Southern and Eastern U.S. The region saw 64 individual twisters on April 25, and another 50 the next day, but the worst still lay ahead. A head-spinning 199 tornadoes touched down on April 27, killing 316 and injuring almost 3,000.…

Surprise! Tornadoes form from the ground up

Call Dorothy—the formation of tornadoes has been knocked on its head. New measurements from tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas suggest these storms’ swirling winds first develop near the ground. That’s contrary to the long-accepted theory that tornado winds are born several kilometers up in clouds and only later touch down on Earth’s surface. Researchers analyzed…

U.S. tornado hot spots are shifting from the Plains to the Midwest and Southeast, study finds

Tornado frequency has increased across the eastern third of the United States and especially across the mid-South, according to a new study in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science. While tornadoes have increased in the East, there has been a notable decrease in twister activity across a large chunk of the Southern Plains of Texas…

GOES-17: America’s Advanced New Weather Satellite Is Still Not Working Properly

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that its next-generation weather satellite GOES-17 is still not functioning properly, although engineers have made some progress toward restoring performance. GOES-17 was launched in March and forms a key part of an $11 billion project to revolutionize American weather and environmental forecasting abilities, along with another…

Road Trip: On the Trail of a Tornado

Purdue students are among those trying to determine why tornadoes in the southeast are so deadly. Jessica Bozell recalls spending five or six hours on a freeway overpass in Alabama, wishing for bad weather. Bozell, 23, is one of a half-dozen students at Indiana’s Purdue University studying tornadoes through an observation program: the Verification of…