We knew that this year's El Niño was among the strongest on record, but what most Floridians did not know is that they would need to be bracing for significant risks of tornado damage. A recent article in The Palm Beach Post emphasized that we have only made it through a single month of 2016, but eight devastating tornadoes have already touched down in our state. And these tornadoes were not forgettable experiences for most homeowners. Indeed, as the article points out, "even for hurricane-hearty Floridians, the eight tornadoes that pulsed through the state this month were soul-shaking, mesmerizing, terrifying." What could be worse than eight tornadoes by the end of January? In short, it is possible that the tornado trend will continue-and perhaps will worsen-in the coming weeks.
Tornadoes at Double the Normal Average in Florida
For residents of "tornado alley" in America's Midwestern states, eight tornadoes might not seem significant. Yet as the article discusses, according to the Storm Prediction Center, the "25-year average for January tornadoes is three." And the twisters that have touched down have been serious storms, many categorized as EF2 tornadoes. And if weather experts are right, Floridians have not seen the last of these serious storms. If experts' predictions cited in The Palm Beach Post turn out to be true, "Floridians should prepare for an extended stay in a Sunshine State-version of tornado alley."
Ken Clark, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather, underscored that "the whole winter pattern" of tornadoes in Florida "is going to be like this." Thus far, Florida homeowners have seen at least one tornado per week since the new year started. Three of the eight tornadoes were ranked EF2, which has "only happened in three other Januaries since 1950." In two of those Januaries, Floridians were experiencing El Niño events. While the El Niño helped to protect us from hurricane damage last summer and fall, it is now creating conditions that are ripe for deadly tornadoes.
Florida's Substantial Tornado Damage
In early January, a devastating tornado destroyed homes and left thousands of Cape Coral residents without power along Florida's Gulf Coast. About one week later, more tornadoes touched down around Sarasota County on the Gulf Coast and in Hobe Sound on the other side of the state. Shortly thereafter, an EF2 tornado damaged properties in Coconut Creek and Pompano Beach, while an EF0 touched down in Delray Beach.
Weather experts have explained that the jet stream, filled with energy from the El Niño, has been "coursing over Central and West Central Florida at speeds of 130 miles per hour." What does that mean in practical terms? In short, "that kind of power, coupled with a stationary boundary, is a tornado incubator."
And tornadoes can cause damage very quickly. To be sure, one Florida resident described one of the recent West Central Florida tornadoes as doing "as much damage as an eight- or 10-hour hurricane." Meteorologists do not expect the El Niño to dissipate for several more months-not "until spring or early summer." And historically, February has been the worst month for tornadoes when Floridians are experiencing El Niño conditions.
If you have questions or concerns about filing a claim for tornado damage, you should reach out to an experienced West Central Florida tornado damage lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Wells Law Group, P.A. today.