Thursday, September 10, 2009

Research suggests urban sprawl, wet falls & winters affect severe weather

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Sept. 8 (AScribe Newswire) -- Previously rare big city storms - like a tornado Aug. 19 that downed trees and ripped off roofs in downtown Minneapolis and the powerful thunderstorms in New York City a day earlier - may not be so unusual anymore.

As large urban areas continue to expand, they appear to influence tornadoes and other severe weather, research suggests. Cities could be even more at risk if located in a region experiencing a wet fall or winter, according to researchers from Purdue University and the University of Georgia.

One study by professors Dev Niyogi at Purdue and Marshall Shepherd at Georgia found that drought in the fall and winter appears to decrease the number of spring and summer tornadoes in the U.S. Southeast. It is possible that particularly wet fall and winter seasons may lead to more tornado activity but this is less conclusive and is the subject of ongoing research.

The research could eventually contribute to a system for predicting the severity of tornado season in the same way meteorologists and climatologists project hurricane season.

The rest of this fascinating article is here. Interesting theory - time will tell whether there really is a firm, undeniable connection.

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