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March 11, 2010 Volume 31, No. 23

Forecast: stormy spring weather

Midwesterners anxiously awaiting the escape of bitter cold weather and the arrival of spring may not have much pleasant weather to look forward to this year. Tony Lupo, professor of atmospheric sciences, says the approaching storm season could be more active than normal.

Lupo says the upcoming weather pattern resembles that of the 2002-2003 season, the worst season on record, when as many as 109 tornadoes swept across Missouri. Similar to the 2002-2003 season, scientists have recorded a weak El Nina temperature trend in the Pacific Ocean, a colder than usual winter in the Midwest, and a jet stream running through the southern portion of the United States, all of which indicate a stormier season.

Mid-March to June is considered the Midwest storm season with stronger outbreaks occurring in late March and April, when leftover winter air still lingers over the Midwest. This winter season was the 13th coldest winter since the 1890s, Lupo says. In addition to an increase of tornadoes this spring, he expects frequent severe storms with damaging winds, hail, lightning and flash flooding.

“We’ve been stuck in a prolonged period of winter weather that could change quickly into a stormy spring,” Lupo says.