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."
Just this last week, many residents of Florida experienced tornado warnings, and residents in South Florida were affected by damaging tornadoes. Similarly, last fall and winter, residents of West Central Florida saw many communities affected by the devastation that tornadoes can cause. While many meteorologists attributed the rise in tornadoes and tornado damage to last year's El Niño, a recent article from iTech Post suggests that climate change may in fact be responsible, at least in part, for tornado outbreaks in Florida and across the country. As such, it is important for West Central Florida residents to prepare for the possibility of further tornadoes this year and in the future.
With substantial focus on El Niño over the winter months, and more recently La Niña, should Floridians be anticipating a shift in this year's hurricane season? Every year, the Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 until November 30, but as of right now, forecasters cannot seem to agree upon whether the weather patterns from recent months will impact the probability of hurricane formation in a manner that is anomalous from other recent years. In short, a recent report from The Weather Channel indicated that the "2016 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012," while another recent article in USA Today indicated that "top meteorologists from Colorado State University forecast a near-average Atlantic hurricane season this year."
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.