We're entering what is typically the heart of the severe weather season, and so far this year has been abnormal in more ways than one. While the abnormal cold has grabbed many of the headlines, one abnormality that should be celebrated is a below average severe weather season thus far. Through April 25th, we're tracking well below the average number of tornadoes which, to date, is 436; so far in 2018 we've had 268 tornadoes (note, this is a preliminary observation). In fact, today the state of Oklahoma set a new record as there have been no tornadoes reported in the state so far this year, making this the latest start to their tornado season on record. Now that's something to celebrate!
For a state that averages the 4thhighest number of tornadoes per year (56; only behind the ole' state of Texas, Kansas, and Florida) having 0 tornadoes through the first 115 days of 2018 is quite a feat. Even California, which averages about 10 tornadoes a year, has seen more tornadoes than Oklahoma in 2018. If we manage to get through Tuesday without any Oklahoma tornadoes, not only would this be the latest first tornado year on record but it would also be the first time on record that Oklahoma records 0 January-April tornadoes. Below are more stats on Oklahoma state tornadoes put together by the Norma, OK National Weather Service office.
However, Oklahoma's good fortunes could run out next week as a severe weather outbreak is expected Monday through Wednesday. Keep in mind, that just because the season has been quiet thus far doesn't mean there is any less of a chance of a strong and potentially deadly tornado. Below are the Severe Weather Outlooks for May 1st and 2nd. Although a 15% chance of severe weather doesn't sound very significant, for this extended forecast time frame, that indicates a high confidence that we will be dealing with severe weather somewhere around these areas in the middle of next week.
On the flip side, the increase in severe weather means an increased chance for rain, and western Oklahoma needs a lot of that right now. Extreme to exceptional drought conditions cover a wide portion of western Oklahoma where wildfires have been raging recently.
So while we may end the tornado 'drought' we could at the same time be helping the rainfall drought in the western portions of the state. As always, Mother Nature is attempting to find a balance, but not always in the most graceful of ways. Stay safe!