Friday, August 24, 2012

Drought worse; seems to have reduced tornadoes

The government announced Thursday that the nation's unrelenting drought has now spread to 63 percent of the country, most of that centered in the parched earth of the southern Midwest. For some residents outside municipal water districts there and dependent on wells, it has become a struggle to wash dishes, or fill a coffee urn, even to flush the toilet, reports John Eligon of The New York Times.
The absent clouds do seem to have a beneficial lining in the region, known as Tornado Alley. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today that fewer tornadoes plowed across the U.S. in July than during any other July in the 60 years since reliable numbers began being recorded. The same analysis shows that the summer of 2012 may break the record for the fewest tornadoes for any U.S. summer.

Eric Adler of The Kansas City Star reports that in prime tornado season, from mid-April to late July, the U.S. typically sees about 850 twisters -- two-thirds of the 1,300 or so that sweep across the nation yearly. The drought might be to thank for that, said Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., who analyzed the data with colleague Greg Carbin, a meteorologist at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, also in Norman. (Read more)

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