ARKANSAS, USA — Spring means severe weather season across Arkansas, but how stormy is spring 2022 looking like? Are we expecting more or less tornadoes? (Scroll down for our complete severe weather outlook.)
LAST YEAR | 2021
Our previous spring was fairly quiet. There were a few hail and wind storms, but we had a slightly below average number of tornadoes. During the months of March, April, and May, Arkansas usually gets about 19 tornadoes to touch down (looking over the past 20 years). We had 17 tornadoes. Most of those were in central or eastern Arkansas. The western half of the state was quieter. The two most noticeable tornadoes in the River Valley were EF-1 tornadoes in Muldrow and Fort Smith - Van Buren. The later damaged the roof of the Crawford County courthouse. Otherwise, spring was fairly tame around Fayetteville and Fort Smith.
WHAT IS AVERAGE?
Before we jump into this spring's outlook, let's talk about a typical March-April-May.
- Tornadoes: 19
- Hail Reports: 200-300
- Wind Reports: 100-200
Specifically in Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley, we get 5 tornadoes touching down every spring (looking over the past 20 years)
SPRING 2022 SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK
We look closely at jet stream patterns to see how storms may hit the United States. The jet stream is critical to organizing where storms strike. During La Niña springs, we generally notice a more active jet over the south-central Plains and Ozarks. We typically get more thunderstorms in these times. However, our La Niña will we weakening to a neutral phase (eastern Pacific waters will warm to average temperatures). During these springs in the past 30 years, we've seen more storms, but fewer tornadoes in those storms.
However will this be counteracted by a shift in Tornado Alley? Climate change seems to be creating a drier climate in the western Plains. This may help push the bullseye of Tornado Alley eastbound toward Arkansas and much of the Deep South (Gensini and Brooks, 2018). In the future, we expect tornado activity to increase for Arkansas.
- More thunderstorms
- Higher hail threats
- Higher wind threats
- Slightly lower tornado threat
Severe weather is a tricky forecast because it depends on timing fronts, afternoon heating, moisture flow, and wind patterns. One outbreak can quickly give us more tornadoes than normal. Our forecast is heavily based on previous weakening La Niña springs, plus the Climate Prediction Center's outlook for warmer and wetter conditions.
This forecast is only for March, April, and May, not tornadoes for the entirety of 2022.
-5NEWS Weather Team
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