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Can ENSO forecasts help predict severe thunderstorm activity?


A potentially high-impact study sponsored by NOAA CPO’s Modeling, Analysis, Prediction, and Projections (MAPP) program titled “Influence of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation on tornado and hail frequency in the United States” was published online in Nature Geoscience on March 19.
This research by John T. Allen (International Research Institute for Climate and Society/Columbia University), Michael K. Tippett (Center of Excellence for Climate Change Research/Columbia University), and Adam H. Sobel (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory/Columbia University) points to a relationship between El Niño/La Niña events and tornado and hail frequency during the winter and spring, providing a potential source for severe thunderstorm prediction months in advance.
More hail events and tornadoes tend to occur over the central U.S. during La Niña, while fewer occur during El Niño states; thus, the occurrence of El Niño or La Niña in winter could help forecast severe thunderstorm activity through the winter and early spring. CPO/MAPP’s support of this research serves as an example of OAR’s continuing efforts to advance the weather-climate connection.
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