TTU professor says La Niña creates potential for fewer, stronger tornadoes this season on the South Plains

Tech Professor predicts fewer, stronger tornadoes with La Nina

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Christopher Weiss teaches atmospheric science at Texas Tech.

He says, if he had to make a forecast for the South Plains this season, he’d predict fewer tornadoes, but the events that do happen could be pretty potent.

That’s in part, because of La Niña.

The climate pattern brings cooler-than-average water into the central Pacific Ocean, affecting the movement of weather patterns in the northern hemisphere.

“The movement of those weather systems and the placement of those weather systems affect where severe weather occurs and how intense it is,” Weiss explained.

Weiss says we’re currently in a very strong La Niña pattern.

He says on average, the position of severe weather tends to move farther east.

“May be a good thing for us here on the 1-27 corridor, but the events that do happen tend to be a little bit stronger, a little bit more prolific in terms of tornado production,” Weiss said.

Without a major tornado since 1970, Weiss says it’s just a matter of time before a major event hits Lubbock.

“Now’s the time to start thinking about what you’re going to do, you know, how you’re going to protect your family, how you’re going to protect your property. Now is preferable to when the western sky is pitch black, for sure,” Weiss added.

He says to figure out where you would go, whether that’s a storm shelter or basement.

If you don’t have one of those, head to an interior room with no windows.

The City will install 45 outdoor tornado sirens later this year.

“We have a history with large tornadoes, so it makes sense, at least in my opinion, it makes sense to have these sirens available, so that people that are outdoors can get that kind of warning, or people that don’t have access to tv or smartphones or whatever,” Weiss said.

He says if you’re in a dire circumstance and caught outside, to move at right angles in relation to the tornado or lie flat in a low-lying ditch.

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