It’s (almost) never too late for tornadoes

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Tornado and severe T'storm warnings on Sunday Nov. 17th.

Sunday’s devastating outbreak of tornadoes in the Midwest can serve as a reminder. Even though we’re heading full steam into winter, a time when blizzards and ice storms are our main opponents, we can’t overlook the occasional storm with hail, high winds, or even twisters.

Since records began in 1844 Wisconsin has seen 9 tornadoes in November, 6 in December, 3 in January, and 18 In March. February stands alone as the only tornado free month in Wisconsin, at least since we started keeping track.

There were nearly 600 severe weather reports on November 17, 2013

There were nearly 600 severe weather reports on November 17, 2013

While the total of 36 seems low the real number is probably higher. The invention of weather radar and advanced Doppler radar has catapulted the detection rate of tornadoes. In fact, since 2000, we’ve seen November, January, and March tornadoes right here in southeast Wisconsin.

Here are a few notable out of season tornado days:

March 8, 2000: An F1 (we hadn’t switched to the EF scale yet) twister dropped right over the runway at Mitchell International. This was the earliest in the year a tornado has ever touched down in Milwaukee.

January 7, 2008: Two tornadoes skipped across Walworth and Kenosha counties. The stronger of the two grew to an EF-3 with wind speed of 150-160 mph!

November 22, 2010: EF-1 traveled 11.5 miles across Racine county with another EF-1 covering 4 miles through Walworth county.

When severe weather strikes in “winter months” we usually see it coming. On all three of those dates temps leaped into the 60s or even 70s (we hit 77° on March 8, 2000) creating a very unstable atmosphere.

Of course we’re always keeping a close watch on the weather to give folks a heads up on days like this, just like we did before Sunday’s storms. Oh, yeah, we’ll give you a heads up on those winter storms too!

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