While many residents of the Tampa Bay area have heard about waterspouts and tornadoes forming during and around a hurricane, most of us tend to think of tornadoes as separate weather events. In other words, homeowners frequently assume that tornadoes can form when certain types of thunderstorms occur, but we do not always consider the risks of tornado damage when preparing for a devastating hurricane. As many Tampa residents know, Hurricane Irma recently made its way near the Tampa-St. Petersburg area as a Category 1 hurricane, according to an article in Business Insider. Yet while West Central Florida homeowners were preparing for high winds and flooding associated with the hurricane, many Floridians also learned that they were under tornado watches and warnings.
Should West Central Florida residents expect to see tornadoes this summer as a result of strong thunderstorms and hurricanes? While we do not receive the same type of advance warning for tornadoes that we usually do for hurricanes, it is still possible to take steps to ensure that your home can withstand, as much as possible, the strong winds of a damaging tornado. And if we were to gain a better understanding of when tornadoes are likely to strike and the type of damage they might create, Florida homeowners could be even better prepared. That is one of the aims of Vortex SE, a project with $5 million in research backing that is designed to provide insight into "how environmental factors characteristic of the southeastern United States affect the formation, intensity, structure, and path of tornadoes in this region."
For anyone living in Sarasota or the Tampa Bay area, you might be wondering if you need to gear up for another eventful tornado season that could lead to significant property damage. But wait-does Florida actually have a tornado season? Last year around this same time, residents of West Central Florida were eagerly waiting for hurricane season to come to a close (which ends November 30 in Florida). Yet just a short time later, the Gulf Coast experienced a number of very serious storms that produced damaging tornadoes.