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CLIMATE SCIENCE
Tornado numbers lower because of drought
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Aug 21, 2012


disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The ongoing U.S. drought may have one bright side, researchers said, as a record-low number of tornadoes have been recorded.

While drought and hot, dry weather has devastated agriculture this summer and led to the deaths of dozens of people, it has also decreased the outbreaks of tornadoes, scientists at the National Severe Storms Laboratory of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration said.

Around 300 tornadoes have hit the U.S. since the middle of April, the fewest in that time period in nearly 60 years of record-keeping, they said.

That's about a third of the average major tornado incidents for the period.

"This is a really rare event," Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the storm laboratory, told The Wall Street Journal.

"The simple reason is: You aren't going to get a tornado if you don't have thunderstorms."

A high-pressure system has been parked over the middle of the United States, bringing oppressive heat but keeping severe storms with their precipitation -- conditions which can spawn tornadoes -- at bay.

July, the warmest month on record for the United States, saw the fewest tornadoes ever recorded for the month.

The simple fact, Dan Kottlowski, a senior meteorologist with Accuweather.com, told the Journal, is that rainfall brings tornadoes while drought keeps them away.

"Which side of the coin do you want?" he said.

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