During the month of April, the frequency of tornadoes in the United States tends to increase especially in the Midwest or the region known as “Tornado Alley”. This is all thanks to a gradual lift in the jet stream, which allows the warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to lift into the Midwest. This warm moist air then clashes with the cool air sinking down from Canada, creating a prime tornadic environment for thunderstorms in the Midwest.
The story this year has been the complete opposite as old man winter has held a firm grasp over much of the United States. As the jet stream has stayed put in its late winter position, letting the cool air from Canada spread across most of the continental U.S well into late April. This leaves the warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico suppressed to areas across the deep south. Hence why we have had more severe weather events occurring down in the south instead of the Midwest. In a sense, the Ohio and Mississippi Valley's have become the "new" tornado alley in 2018.
As of a result of this, both Oklahoma and Kansas have yet to record a tornado in 2018. In comparison, California averages about 10 tornadoes per year, and so far, has recorded 5 tornadoes in 2018. On April 22nd, 2018, a few waterspouts came ashore near Fort Walton Beach in the Florida panhandle causing a few tornado reports to emerge.
In fact, 19 other states have recorded a tornado this year as shown by the graphic above with neither being Oklahoma or Kansas. Each red dot is a tornado report confirmed by a survey team from the National Weather Service. You can see that Oklahoma and Kansas have had a few close encounters will a tornadic thunderstorm, but never has it touched down in those two states.
The latest first tornado on record in the state of Oklahoma is April 26th. As for Kansas, the latest first tornado report is May 28th, 1980 per the National Weather Service office in Topeka. Although the record for Kansas will not be broken, the record for Oklahoma has already been broken as it seems to stay quiet severe weather wise during the final week of April.
The next tornado that is confirmed in Oklahoma will set a new mark for the latest first tornado in Oklahoma since records began in 1950. To close, there were 651 tornado reports spanning from January to the end of April last year. This year, the Storm Prediction Center has documented only 268 tornado reports, a 41 percent drop from last year.
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© 2017 Meteorologist Joey Marino