May is prime time for tornadoes

The month of May historically is the most active in the U.S. for tornadic activity, according to the National Weather Service, which is a less than welcome statistic for those who are still piecing their lives back together after a record-setting April.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates there were more than 600 tornadoes in April, shattering the record of 543 in May 2003, and earning its place in the record books as the month with more tornadoes than in any month in U.S. history. NOAA reports there were an estimated 327 deaths associated with the tornado outbreak from April 25-28, making it the third-deadliest on record, behind 1925 with 747 and 1932 with 332.

The bad news is, meteorologists warn the weather patterns are once again favorable for tornadoes. Severe weather is predicted this week from the southern Plains to parts of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, which is also not good news to those dealing with what have become chronic flood conditions in many communities.

USA Today reports there are several reasons why May is the most active month for tornadoes.

“Not only is it hotter and more humid in the South as the sun climbs higher in the sky, but the warmth and humidity spreads north more often into the Plains and Midwest,” Weather Channel meteorologist Jonathan Erdman said in an interview with the newspaper. “The key for May, however, is that while it’s getting warmer and more humid near the surface, the jet stream remains energetic. This allows for cold, dry air aloft to plow over the top of warm, humid air near the surface.”

“It is these strong jet-stream disturbances tend to enhance the difference in wind speed and direction at various heights above the surface, which helps sustain the supercell thunderstorms that spawn tornadoes,” Erdman says.

Take steps now to determine the best ways to protect your property and your family from severe weather before the threat is imminent, advises the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). Find guidance on how to prepare your property and reduce the risk of damage at www.DisasterSafety.org.

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