La Niña could mean an early start to severe weather in 2021


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While tornadoes are not rare in Middle Tennessee, 2020 has been a very active year for severe weather.

Krissy Hurley, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Nashville, said we have seen more tornadoes this year than we would typically see.

“We’ve had 21 tornadoes that have struck Middle Tennessee, which is already higher than the yearly average we typically see, which is 17 if you take the average from 1995 to 2020,” Hurley said.

So why have we seen more tornadoes this year? The answer is complex.

According to Hurley, one of the biggest influencers on our weather is El Niño and La Niña and what mode we’re in. We were in neutral conditions earlier in the year, which usually means an average spring severe weather season. But, other factors, such as jet-stream location, also play a role. A developing La Niña is expected to have impacts as we head into 2021.

Hurley tells News 2 La Niña often brings an early start to the spring severe weather season.

“Right now, we are going into a La Niña. So, I suspect that late winter, early spring, we’re probably going to be looking at a more active severe weather season for 2021.”

With La Niña in the forecast, this trend of above-average severe weather events may continue into next year. La Niña also tends to bring warmer and drier conditions for winter.

“With La Niña, we are typically warmer temperature-wise, and a lot of times, we are drier,” Hurley said. “So, for the snow lovers, this isn’t the perfect set-up for you. But all it takes is one cold snap and one low-pressure system to get you your snow.”

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