Is NJ the New Tornado Alley of the Northeast?
After multiple tornadoes tore through parts of New Jersey on Saturday, many Garden State residents are wondering if we will see a repeat scenario in the coming weeks.
According to New Jersey State Climatologist Dave Robinson what’s going on is quite unusual, but it’s difficult to predict what will happen next.
No clear pattern yet
“There were multiple years in the past decade where we’ve none, but then again two years ago we had 13,” said Robinson. “So in other words there is somewhat randomness to this.”
Mount Holly National Weather Service Meteorologist Ray Martin said we did have all the ingredients necessary to spawn a tornado this past weekend in New Jersey, including a warm air mass and an approaching cold front, but to have multiple tornadoes in April in the Garden State is still very abnormal.
“There may be a climate change component, certainly a warmer atmosphere tends to cause more energy in the atmosphere and allows for more stronger storms,” Martin said.
Get a tornado warning, find shelter
Martin said if you get an emergency tornado warning, it’s important to pay attention and take cover.
“Tornadoes are finicky, there’s definitely larger areas that are going to get a warning versus what is going to be affected by the tornado because of the uncertainty inherent in radar observations,” Martin said.
So what will happen in the coming weeks?
Robinson said even though we have had an unusual number of tornadoes in New Jersey so far this year, it’s not really feasible to predict what kind of tornado threat the state is going to face moving forward.
“You start trying to look for reasons to explain this plethora of severe storms, and frankly the best we can say right now is it’s just severe weather,” he said.
Robinson noted as average temperatures continue to rise in Jersey, the risk is likely to go up too.
“I think there might be a greater prevalence of these storms or at least a longer season for these storms to occur.”
He added it’s critically important to seek shelter if you do get an emergency bulletin from the National Weather Service about a tornado warning in your area.
“Even if a tornado doesn’t appear, you’re still seeking safety from lightning, from hail, from what we call straight-line winds which are much more prevalent in severe storms in New Jersey,” said Robinson.