From the ABC 7 Weather team

Severe weather season off to an impressive start

May 8, 2011 - 06:20 PM
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Just as the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., continues to compile severe reports from the April 27-28 outbreak, how bad has this year's severe weather season been compared to average? The results are startling.

It's no joke: The severe weather season is off to a wild start across the region. The National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., has confirmed 16 tornadoes from the April 27 to 28 event alone. This number is incredible when compared to not only April's average number of twisters, but even for the year overall and the severe weather season is just getting started.

While 16 tornadoes were confirmed in a 24-hour period from April 27 to 28, 2011, the average number of tornadoes in Sterling's entire forecast area (seen in the image below) for the entire year is only 25! Typically two tornadoes occur in April while the most tornadoes climatologically occur in July, with an average of six.

And, we've only just begun! The severe weather season runs from April 20 to September 2 in the District. There is typically a spike in activity in early May and then again in early July. Statistics compiled by the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., from 1980 to 2006 show the season reaches its seasonal peak on July 8. Severe weather is most likely between 3 and 8 p.m. The hour most tornadoes and reports of wind damage from severe storms occur is 6 p.m. with hail most frequent between 5 and 6 p.m.


severe weather occurrences

The photo above, courtesy of the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., shows significant severe weather reports during the 1980 to 2006 period. Only tornadoes F2 or stronger, wind gusts of 65 knots or stronger, and hail of 2 inch diameter or larger are plotted.

So, there you have it. In the major late April outbreak alone, we've seen 64 percent of our annual tornadoes. Don't let your guard down yet; there are still at least two more months worth of possible severe weather. Remember to keep abreast to changing weather by watching ABC7, logging onto and tuning into WTOP Radio for around-the-clock weather updates.

Have a great day!

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