Meteorologists call this tornado season one of the most active in recent memory. Preliminary numbers indicate more twisters have already swept across the nation this year than all of last year, and the number of tornado related deaths have also jumped.
The South Plains seems to be bucking this trend. Meteorologists estimate we've only had around six twisters this year, while last year our area had more than 40. They warn any storm can spawn a tornado, though, and we still have a few weeks left in this severe weather season.
"It is one of the most active and plus the strength of the storms," NewsChannel 11 Chief Meteorologist John Robison said.
In just the last week, tornados have left a devastating path of destruction through the nation's mid-section. "Obviously there have been more tornados, but it's just amazing they're so strong, and then they're hitting some large cities," Robison said.
Robison says La Nina is affecting the track and strength of storms across the U.S.
"La Nina tends to give more interaction with the jet stream, which increases the speed of the storms as well as impact the overall track," Robison said.
Preliminary numbers show 2008 to be one of the deadliest in recent years. Already this year, the Storm Prediction Center reports 110 tornado related deaths. In all of last year, 81 were reported, followed by 67 in 2006, and just 38 in 2005.
The number of tornado is also up. Take a look at May alone. Early reports show 480 tornados across the country. That's 230 more twisters than reported last year, and 340 more than 2005.
Overall, preliminary numbers show 1,191 twisters have already ripped across the U.S. this year. In all of 2006, 1,093 twisters were reported. In 2005, 1,106 were reported.
"It just makes us more aware of the fact that we have to alert people and how important it is to know what to do when there is a tornado warning, and what action to take for the family," Robison said.
NewsChannel 11 will continue to alert you to severe weather whenever it pops up on the South Plains, but the First Alert Forecast Team also recommends keeping a NOAA Weather Radio for extra protection