4:45 PM CST | January 20, 2019
We are in the middle of winter now, but in just a couple months, we will be entering our severe weather season. I thought I would take a few minutes to summarize our severe weather in 2018. Texas had a quiet season in terms of tornado reports. The Storm Prediction Center database shows a total of 50 tornado reports for the entire state last year. Which states had more reports of tornadoes? Louisiana (84), Iowa (84), Mississippi (67), Illinois (64), and Alabama (52) topped the Lone Star State.
The number for 2018 is the fewest tornado reports for Texas since at least 2000. The data is preliminary and could change; however, this is the case right now. Our spring severe weather season typically begins in March, but it depends on other factors including, but not limited to, the frequency of cold air intrusions into the Gulf of Mexico. If we see frequent cold intrusions into the gulf, it can push the deepest moisture closer to the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba. Unless we see several days of southerly flow between systems, moisture and instability are often limited for organized storms - even with dynamic weather systems. In these cases, our "severe weather season" has sometimes begun as late as April.
We still have several more weeks of winter left. More cold air will spill into the state between now and the end of the month. The next weather system will arrive Tuesday/Wednesday; however, moisture may be confined to East Texas and the Lower-Mississippi Valley. Temperature profiles in far East Texas may support a brief wintry mix early Wednesday before drier air scours the lower-levels of the atmosphere. Thereafter, I believe we will see at least two more systems and cold fronts before the end of the month. This portion of the weather pattern that we are experiencing will begin to cycle again in the second week of March. What could the early spring version of this bring to Texas? Could it impact our start to the severe weather season? We will have to wait and see once we get closer. :)