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Meteorologists: Spike in tornadoes doesn't mean higher risk in Md.

A map of tornado activity recorded in 2011.
(National Weather Service)

Destructive and devastating tornadoes have grabbed the weather headlines so far this year, with the 416 tornadoes observed through April 9 about one-fourth more than normal. But does the apparent spike in severe weather, also including hail and damaging thunderstorms, mean added risk for Maryland?

Not according to the National Weather Service and AccuWeather.com severe weather blogger and meteorologist Henry Margusity.

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Granted, last week Maryland marked "Severe Storms Awareness Week" to get residents mindful of severe storm preparation. Each day focused on a different type of threat, including tornadoes, hail, flooding and wind.

But there is no indication Maryland is facing any immediate threat of severe weather, at least not any more than any other spring.

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"We are in severe weather season," said Carrie Suffern, a National Weather Service meteorologist for the Baltimore/Washington region. Any storm here requires the same "ingredients" as those afflicting the Plains states in recent weeks, she said -- a moist air mass and something to cause atmospheric lift, like a cold front.

Maryland typically sees about seven tornadoes each year, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center. Based on the number of tornadoes per square miles, Maryland was third on a recent Weather Channel ranking of top tornado states.

But the cold fronts that have wreaked havoc in the Midwest have mostly dissipated by the time they have crossed the Appalachians and reached Maryland, Margusity said. (That is meanwhile also exacerbating a potentially developing drought in Maryland, he added.)

"The severe weather seems to fizzle out as it's coming over the mountains to us," Margusity said.

A dry, northwesterly flow of air is preventing the moisture needed to produce rain -- and severe storms, he said. Until that weather pattern changes, severe weather is less likely here.

The risk for storms in Maryland is more likely in June and July, Margusity said.

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