New study shows the south could see more supercell tornadoes

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 11:40 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As we get ready for another severe weather threat this week, tornado researchers are looking ahead and not liking what they’re seeing. A new study says we could see more tornado spawning storms in the future.

We could see more supercells, those rotating thunderstorms that could produce tornadoes and hail in the south as the world heats up, according to a new study published in the Bulletin of the American Metrological Society.

Walker Ashley is the lead author. He’s a professor of meteorology and disaster geography at Northern Illinois university.

“Even though they are relatively small. They pack a heck of a punch in that they produce most of the significant tornadoes and most of the significant hail and even extreme rainfall rates and damaging winds,” Ashley said.

The study predicts a nationwide increase in supercells and an over 25% jump in the location and amount of time the strongest supercells rip across land. The study says southern states like Alabama could see an even higher increase.

Ashley and his team looked at different computer simulations to predict what could happen by the end of the century.

“If we’re actually doubling the number of supercells that’s not good and as you know all too well, the south has particular vulnerabilities whether it be physical, whether it’s nocturnal tornadoes.. The fact that you can’t see much with the rolling hills. As someone who grew up in Georgia, I know all too well about the south,” Ashley said.

Ashley tells us one of the overall messages here is to always be prepared. You need to have a plan, know where to go when severe weather strikes especially if you live in manufactured housing. Ashley says more than 50% of housing related tornado deaths happen in manufactured housing.

Even though this study looks at the end of the 21st century, researchers feel like we’re living in the experiment right now with the frequency of storms.

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