COLUMBIA CITY — Unseasonably warm temperatures have left most of the Midwest double checking the date. Yes, Monday was Dec. 4 and the temperature registered a high of 64 degrees. But yesterday temperatures dropped — to a high of 60 degrees. Even with the slight dip, the temperature was still 20 degrees above the normal high of 39.
Although some have enjoyed waking up to frost-free windshields, others are concerned the strange weather patterns are indicators of a bigger problem – severe weather outbreaks.
Over the past several years in a row, there have been a surge of tornadoes and thunderstorms during December in the Midwest. In recent history, Indiana has seen nine tornadoes during winter months.
According to the National Weather Service, violent weather outbreaks during the winter are generally rare due to the weak natural heating that takes place, but the right conditions can lead to severe thunderstorms any time of the year.
“Throw in a moist flow from the Gulf of Mexico, an unusually warm weather pattern, an approaching cold front and wind shear and anything is possible. Anything ranging from damaging wind gusts and hail to strong tornadoes,” said NWS Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity.
Records show since 2006 there has been at least one severe weather outbreak that included tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and large hail during December.
The outbreaks have been spread throughout the month and have been no stranger during the holidays.
Some years, including 2007, 2008 and 2009, have shown multiple outbreaks of violent storms during December.
This recent three-year average shows that while the bulk of tornadoes have occurred during the warmer months of the year, there have been a number during the winter months as well.
The National Weather Service reports that the up-and-down pattern of temperatures will continue over a large part of the nation into next week.
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