Severe Weather Explained

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - Record breaking temperatures, devastating floods, and constant severe weather outbreaks have been plaguing the country this year, leaving some scratching their heads.

But forecasters from the National Weather Service say this isn't something out of the blue. Eric Carpenter, a senior meteorologist at the NWS in Jackson, said, "Anytime you have those transition zones like that, that's the way the weather works, we tend to have, when the pattern's changing, that's when we tend to have most of our severe weather."

He's talking about atmospheric transitions. Whether it's shifting from El Nino to La Nina, or coming out of a strong cool phase in the upper atmosphere, these patterns typically prove to spark a lot of weather outbreaks.

Carpenter said, "Looking back in history, some of the biggest tornado outbreaks we've had around here coincided with strong La Nina events including the Super Outbreak of 1974, one of the major tornado outbreaks we had in January of 1999, and this year was kinda the same as that."

Scenes from Smithville, Tuscaloosa, and now Joplin, Missouri are becoming all to frequent this year and the devastation has been catastrophic, claiming countless lives...even with warnings issued a half hour before the storm.

Trained storm spotters are helping progress, too. Not only getting the word back to the NWS, but digging deeper into the storm to figure out it's inner workings, in an effort to make forecasting faster, and lead times longer.

Copyright WDAM 2011. All Rights Reserved.