NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — If you’re wondering what is going on with the weather, the National Weather Service has an answer. The meteorologist in charge of the NWS Nashville office, Krissy Hurley, said the extreme weather swings may be a glimpse into what’s in store.
From the coldest December temperatures Middle Tennessee has seen since 1996, to temps in the 60s and 70s, even Hurley can’t help but weigh in on what’s going on. “It definitely makes you kind of stop and pay attention for sure because this isn’t usual for January.”
It’s all thanks to a La Niña pattern, which typically brings more instances of warmer, wetter weather.
“La Niña is a change in the ocean temperatures in the Eastern Pacific Ocean,” Hurley said. “When we have this change, that impacts where the jetstream, the upper-level winds, where that pattern situates across the United States.”
Moving west to east, the system settled over Tennessee.
“Anytime that we get above normal temperatures, especially in January and February, you know that increases our opportunities for the potential for severe weather,” Hurley said.
While it’s hard to say this one severe weather event spells out what 2023 has in store, it provides experts with a baseline for what’s to come.
“This, by no means, means winter is over. We typically see a nice cold snap, at the end of January into the month of February. And if we can get a little bit of moisture in here, for you snow lovers, I’m not closing the door just yet,” Hurley said. “It just shows you how the weather here in Middle Tennessee can definitely swing pretty quickly from one direction to the other.”
Preliminary research on La Niña seasons shows in cooler months, there have been more tornadoes over the Deep South that are category EF2 or stronger.
“If we get into a pattern of where we’re really really warm in January and February, you know that the potential is going to be there for severe weather. So we always need to be prepared. Especially in the wintertime months when we can get snow, we can get tornadoes, and we can get floods,” Hurley said.
According to Hurley, we may see a much earlier start to severe weather season, including tornadoes, with the peak tornado months coming earlier than the traditional season, which falls in March, April and May.