Record Tornadoes & Weather in US, Severe Drought in Mexico and Europe
BY EVELYN BROWNING
Weather Notes from Around the World
This spring has already been a record-breaker. By March 25 the National Climatic Data Center March had already broken more than 6000 heat records!
On March 23, 2012, the US broke all tornado records with 319 reported tornadoes. The high temperatures, combined with the fact that winter left most of the nation’s ground unfrozen, has created ideal conditions for the type of low-lying thunder storms that are ideal for twister development.
Normally the entire month of March has 80 tornadoes. This year we had 160 tornadoes in a single outbreak. The only comparable year was 2008, also when a La Niña was ended. It should be noted, La Niñas tend to shift storm development eastward so that storms are more likely to appear in unexpected (and sometimes unprepared) places, like the recent swirl of 8 tornadoes hitting Michigan.
There was even a rare tornado in Hawaii! The same storm dropped the largest hailstone in Hawaiian history – 4.25 inches (10.8 cm) long.
Plants bloomed early throughout the Central and Eastern US, creating a record-breaking pollen season. The pollen count is soaring. Atlanta, for example, is setting a record, with “9,369 particles per cubic meter of air” when 1,500 particles are officially considered “extremely high.” Other hot spots for are Oklahoma and Tennessee. Unfortunately, (Achoo!) this has created a record allergy season. Normally allergists start getting their spring allergy patients in March. This February saw visits up as much as 30% and by March, doctors have been deluged.
Russia’s Sheveluch volcano has become more active. Ash plumes rose up to 4.3 miles (7.0 km) high each day on March 25-26 and 28. These eruptions were far too small to enter the stratosphere, but they were large enough to enter a cold front that is crossing the Pacific. This not only means cooler temperatures hitting the Pacific Northwest, but also heavier precipitation and the ash and chemicals fall out as acid rain and snow.
Mexico is facing the worst drought in its nation’s history. The water shortage wiped out millions of acres of farmland this winter, caused 15 billion pesos ($1.18 billion) in lost harvests, killed 60,000 head of cattle and weakened 2 million more livestock. Poor weather destroyed some 7.5 million acres (3 million hectares) of cultivable land in 2011 – an area about the size of Belgium or Massachusetts. An estimated 8 million people are affected and the government is having to provide food food rations to more than two million people.