Blame It On La Nina...AND NOTHING ELSE!

Some of you may not have ever heard of Dixie Alley.  I bet you have now...  It isn't found in the Great Plains, but in the southeast part of the US.  This area has some of the strongest tornadoes and some of the deadliest tornadoes on record.  And all of this was before last week...

Since last Wednesday, I've given several different interviews to various people and media outlets about the awful weather that struck The South. Throughout the past week, there has been one common theme. People want to blame what happened in Alabama on something... The Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, The Magnetic Polar Shift, Global Warming, Climate Change, etc... As a scientist, this is incredibly frustrating. Why? Because had that one tremendous supercell tornado that was on the ground for over 300 miles gone through an unpoplulated area, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Fact is, the storm that was responsible for killing over 300 people and devastating several different communities went on a perfect track to do what it did. People say that tornadoes can't occur where major cities reside or near hills or mountains, etc. Let me be clear about this...given the right conditions, tornadoes can and will occur anywhere.

If somebody wants to blame a particular thing for this violent April, blame La Nina. La Nina is the abnormal cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It consolidates the jet stream energy into one potent stream.


Where this stream sets up, amazing storms can and will occur. Where it doesn't set up, amazing drought and wildfires occur. Isn't that what we have seen in the past several months?  Tornadoes, flooding and blizzards along and to the north of the jet stream.  Drought and wildfires to the south of the jet stream.  It is a crazy pattern, but one we last saw during the period from 2007 through early 2009.  Yup, just a couple years ago...

Another contributing factor?  This year, the Gulf of Mexico is warmer than normal due the a lack of hurricane activity in the Gulf last summer and fall. Not due to Global Warming or Climate Change...


See all that orange shading in the Gulf?  That is water that is warmer than normal.  Add all the unused fuel in the Gulf with colder than normal temperatures in Canada, and when the two collide, big storms will happen. This isnt something new, this is something that has been happening for a long, long, long time...

Eight out of the top fifteen tornado outbreaks have occurred during La Nina events.


Heck, the above graphic is just through 1990!  Throw in the outbreaks during other La Nina years of 2008 and 2011, and La Nina wins in a landslide!  We knew this was going to be an active spring, simply because history has told us so.  NOT, I repeat, NOT because of anything else...

 Google such things as: Super Outbreak 1974, Late May Tornado Outbreak 2004, Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak 2008, Plains Tornado Outbreak May 2008, La Nina & Tornado Outbreaks, etc. You will find more information that you could ever want, and this is just to get you started. The April 26th and 27th Tornado Outbreak of 2011 will be remembered as one of the deadliest outbreaks in American History. Yup, even with all of our forecasting and warning ability, lots of people can still die if bad storms go through populated areas. EF4 and EF5 tornadoes require that you be below ground to survive a direct hit. Lots of people in The South do not have basements or safe rooms. You throw that fact in with the type of weather that occurred last week, and the recipe is disastrous.

I have no political agenda.  I am but a scientist that has a passion about the science of Meteorology.  There is a lot of bad science reporting out there and a lot of speculation.  Please don't fall prey to it.  Since last week, I have heard too much of this kind of garbage and felt compelled to argue for the truth.  And the truth is, this type of disaster will likely happen again due to three simple facts.  1) Cities are expanding 2) Violent tornadoes sometimes occur 3) And when violent tornadoes hit populated areas, people are unfortunately going to die...

Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe

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  • by Hollie Location: Indiana on May 23, 2011 at 12:20 AM
    I am in Indiana and found this through a friend who is keeping up with the Joplin Tornados. And I agree. We have seen some bad weather. As a child when bad weather struck mom always said blame el Nina. :) thanks for speaking the truth
  • by Brian Location: Weather Center on May 11, 2011 at 12:12 AM
    Lark, it will likely remainl breezy to windy almost every afternoon. It is simply that time of year... Although, seems like it has been windy since October!
  • by Lark Location: Peyton on May 9, 2011 at 05:15 PM
    What I'd like to know is WHEN is the wind going to stop? I'm losing my mind out here in Peyton! not to metion not being able to do anything outside.
  • by anna on May 4, 2011 at 05:06 PM
    So refreshing to not have global warming shoved down our throat at ever weird weather thing that happens. Thanks Brian, and this is why I love your weather!
  • by Dolores Location: Rocky Ford on May 4, 2011 at 01:17 PM
    I'm so glad I live here in Colorado. I know we could get a tornado here in Rocky Ford but I still feel pretty safe. We did have a good scare in 2007 when the sirens went off during a thunderstorm. Other than that we have had mostly rain or hail. Was wondering what to expect from the monsoon season this year? Any drought buster storms maybe? Thanks
  • by Brian Location: Weather Center on May 3, 2011 at 08:40 PM
    Thanks Jeff. Trying to educate folks on the true science and hate when bad information corrupts what I am passionate about.
  • by Jeff Location: Cascade on May 3, 2011 at 10:01 AM
    How refreshing to hear someone who knows what he's talking about NOT blame all of this on "global warming" or "climate change." Great read, Brian! Keep up the good work.
  • by Brian Location: Weather Center on May 2, 2011 at 05:23 PM
    Thanks for your comments guys. Unfortunately, I think May is going to be a rough month too. Historically, that is what happens... Hopefully, we won't have any more fatalities though...
  • by Diana Location: Co. Springs on May 2, 2011 at 06:05 AM
    Sounds OK to me! Thanks very much, Brian! I love your desire to clean up the mystique and point the finger at the correct target. Two thumbs up!
  • by onemale2012 Location: space on May 1, 2011 at 11:57 PM
    check my solar outburst video on youtube yeah, and not too mention that 2 huge solar outbursts hit earth in the last 10 days, 3 days before each huge tornado outbreak, and as well not too mention the gamma ray burst on April 20 2011, Its not what your scientists are telling you, its what they are not telling you.
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