Spring outlook issued; severe season could come on quickly


Nine years ago Tuesday, a series of tornadoes dipped from the sky and raked southern Indiana. The infamous Henryville EF-4 tornado travelled for miles in downstate Indiana, leaving 11 Hoosiers dead. Nearly six dozen tornadoes were reported that day nation-wide and claimed 41 lives.

The March 2, 2012 outbreak is a grim reminder that severe weather season is getting underway, and this year, we feel that the season could jump into action very quickly.

We are no strangers to tornadoes in Indiana. Three of the seven historic outbreaks in U.S. history included the state of Indiana: the Tri-State Tornado of 1925, the Palm Sunday 1965 Outbreak and the 1974 Super Outbreak. The density of tornado activity within the state even garnered the title by researchers to name one of four tornado alley’s the “Hoosier Alley.”

A typical severe storm season opens hugging the Gulf coastal states in February and migrates slowly north in March. The February cold wave put a real cap on severe weather nationwide, with only seven tornadoes reported. This was the fewest in a February since 2015 (three) and only the fifth time in the past 20 years with less than 10. The fewest is one in 2010.

The last tornado warning issued in central Indiana was in late October, and for the entire year, the preliminary count was 18 tornadoes statewide. On average, there will be 22 tornadoes in Indiana yearly.

We can boast that there were no tornado fatalities in Indiana last year, a year that was the deadliest in nine years. There were 76 fatalities across 11 states in 2020 with the greatest total in Tennessee where tornadoes attributed to 27 deaths.

Tornado production ramps up quickly in spring with peak tornado activity in April, May and June. However, March looks to be warmer and wetter than normal this year. With the remnants of La Nina (the dominate force behind our winter jet stream) still in existence, studies show that the severe season tends to spread north earlier in the spring months.

At the time of this post, a quiet stretch of weather is expected for the upcoming seven to nine days, but later next week, we are eying a potential storm system that could include a severe storm element. The bottom line: we know that severe season is coming and feel it will come on quickly.

Severe weather awareness week is still two weeks out (the week of March 14), but be sure to have a severe plan in place and have multiple ways to receive warnings. Download the Weather Authority app, and be sure to follow our forecasts daily so we can keep you ahead of the storms.

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