We here at the KX Storm Team have been taking a long look at the upcoming severe weather season, and how we expect it to play out. There’s a number of factors that go into forecasting severe weather. Primarily, we need to look at our friend the jet stream and figure out its orientation. Shown here is a very favorable pattern for severe weather, with a trough in the west featuring cooler temperatures and a ridge in the west, where we’ll find our warmer temperatures. You can see the jet stream is amplified, that is, the dips and peaks are quite prominent. Our strongest storm systems are very often created from this “buckling” of the jet stream. Looking ahead over the next months, there are hints that we could see this type of pattern emerge by the end of May. Secondly, we know that severe weather and the supercells that create it are formed from moisture in the atmosphere, which provides the energy storms need to thrive. We have seen quite a lot of moisture fall across southern and eastern portions of North Dakota, but conditions are being defined as “abnormally dry” to the northwest. This could hinder the potential for severe storm development. Lastly, several studies have tried to make a connection between an El Nino and tornado potential. In each, a weak positive correlation was found, meaning slight enhancement for the potential of severe weather, as we are currently in an El Nino pattern. All that being said, there is a decent chance that severe weather season may take a little while to get going, considering that there is rather high confidence that the month of May will see below average temperatures.
Bottom line: Severe weather season might take a little while to get going, but could really crank up by the end of the month, particularly across our southern and eastern counties. Overall, I think it’ll be an average year with the potential to be higher by June.