Under the radar, tornado season already the deadliest since 2011; twister confirmed in N.J.

Anthony R. Wood, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Weather News

PHILADELPHIA -- With the annual peak period still to come, 2020 already has secured its position as the deadliest tornado year since 2011, and that does have something to do with what has been happening around here.

Although the coronavirus likely has deprived them of their fair share of attention, since Jan. 1 tornadoes have killed 73 people, 65 of those in March and April, including a deadly outbreak in Tennessee, according to the government's Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla.

The destruction has been confined primarily to the South, although a weak tornado was confirmed in Ocean County last week.

It landed on Normandy Beach Tuesday afternoon and spun up a water spout -- basically a tube of water that appears to be spiraling toward the sky -- in Barnegat Bay.

It caused some minor damage, but it didn't kill or hurt anyone, didn't last long, and its peak winds didn't even match the strongest reported straight-line gust that day.

Although the region has been spared tornado trauma, what has been happening around here is related to the destruction in the South, said Alan Reppert, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.


On Saturday Philadelphia officially had its 13th consecutive day of below-normal temperatures, the longest such stretch since November 2018. The region and much of the rest of the East has been spending many of its recent days under an upper-air trough, an area of lower pressure that favors cool weather.

The pattern has been favorable for frontal passages that leave in their wake cooler and drier air, a dangerous counterpoint to warm, moisture laden air streaming northward from the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures have been significantly above normal in many places.

So far this year, 548 tornadoes have been observed, which would be well ahead of the three-year average; the caveat being that the number likely will decrease when the reports are analyzed and the double-counted ones are deleted.

Of concern, however: May on average is the most active tornado month of the year.


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