Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 12, 2012

County has warmest March on record

Tornadoes are coming more frequently

CROSSVILLE — The record-breaking trend started in January continued in March when both months recorded record temperatures with March setting an all-time high.

January started the trend with the seventh warmest January on record, followed by the sixth warmest February. March took the number one spot this year with an incredible 11 degrees above normal. No March even comes close, according to records that go back in East Tennessee to just after the Civil War.

The cause of the warm weather was an unusually long-lasting high pressure over the Southeast that pushed the jet stream north, all the way to Canada, at times. This blocked any possibility of colder air dropping down onto the Plateau from the north.

Now that April has arrived, the weather patterns are much more normal, with occasional frost the first half of the month. We went from March 10 to April 6 with no frost.

Rainfall for 2012 is right where it should be with just over 15 inches. Good to see that something is normal.

We will continue to be in our tornado season through the end of May. We have had eight tornado days in Cumberland County since 2002, with five of those coming in April. Are tornadoes becoming more frequent here? There were only eight tornado days from 1965 to 2002.

There is now what is being called "Dixie Alley" that covers Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. With the latest Doppler Radar, we can track tornadoes more accurately than ever.

On Feb. 29, we saw the tornado touch down near Smithville, then it was aloft as it moved over Monterey and Mayland, touching down again in north Cumberland County. With the new technology, we will be able to see the debris if a tornado is on the ground. This will greatly increase accuracy of tornado warnings, in many cases.

There are signs of the upper air patterns changing later in the year. If this continues, we will see a hot summer followed by an early fall. I will update you each month as we monitor the latest data.

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