Cold spring keeps severe weather in check

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Most in West Michigan would agree we have had to pull out the winter jackets far too many times this spring.

It has been a cold spring in West Michigan with an April that will likely finish within the top five coldest. But there has been a region-wide ancillary benefit to all this cold.

Severe weather this year has been below average, and it has direct ties to the cold temperatures.

West Michigan is not the only region experiencing the lack of severe storms. Incredibly, Kansas and Oklahoma have yet to receive their first tornado, which is record-setting. In fact, California has reported more tornadoes than both tornado alley states.

Thunderstorms thrive on warm, moist and unstable air. For much of this spring, that type of atmosphere has been suppressed.

The jet stream has been configured with a predominate flow from Canada, resulting in colder, drier and more stable air masses. This is not conducive to thunderstorms, let alone ones strong enough to produce severe weather.   

Many cities across the eastern U.S. are close or are breaking records for the least amount of severe thunderstorm watches or warnings.
Severe weather will avoid West Michigan once again this coming week, adding to the streak of no severe storms. This breaks a record for the least number of severe thunderstorms. It should not be a surprise, but the nationwide tornado count has been well below average as well.

The current U.S. tornado count is below the 25th percentile — a trend that has it more than half below normal. The lackluster severe weather season so far isn’t just confined to 2018.

Since 2009, there has been a noticeable downward trend in the number of severe thunderstorms.

There are indications that May might follow April with cooler than average temperatures. Storm Team 8 is hoping this leads to the continuation of the no severe weather streak.

Regardless, even during years there has not been much severe weather you can still have significant storms events. For example, the tornado outbreak on Aug. 20, 2016.

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