Where Has All the Risk Gone?

high risk If you are a storm chaser or a weather enthusiast, you probably know about the Convective Outlook.  It’s a product you sometimes see on television.  It forecasts the day’s risk of severe weather into three categories, Slight, Medium and High.  So have you noticed what’s been missing in 2010?  Everything but the slight risk.

The Storm Prediction Center says it has not issued a single outlook so far this year with a Moderate or a High Risk.  According to their archives, the latest they’ve gone into a year without this is March 21st, 2005.  But we’re now a full month past that mark and still no moderate or high risks.

Of course this doesn’t mean there hasn’t been severe weather outbreaks, just nothing that set up well enough to predict a major event.  But all in all it’s been one of the quietest starts to the severe weather season ever seen.

2005_annual_map_torn Does that mean much of the country will dodge the severe weather bullet this year?  Absolutely not.  In fact, the last quiet start in 2005 later turned into a record breaking year for severe weather and tornadoes in the US.  More than 1250 tornadoes touched down in 2005 (see graphic to the right), nearly 70 in one day alone.  It’s the year that a tornado touched down in Central Iowa in the middle of November and it’s also the year Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast.

I wouldn’t label this lapse in severe weather as a quiet period, but instead a lull.  There’s no evidence that this means the quiet trend will continue.  It just leaves us chasers a little more on edge for what’s to come in the weeks and months ahead.

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