2014 was not your normal year when it comes to tornadoes. In fact, early counts put it down there — hand-in-hand with 2012 and 2013 — among the least active on record.

On the whole, that’s a good thing for those who may face threats from these beasts of nature, though several high-impact events still did unfortunately occur.

Related: Top tornado videos of 2013 | Top tornado videos of 2012

Despite the lack of numbers, 2014 will be remembered for a long time to come, largely thanks to three days in June. Additional memorable tornadoes were peppered throughout the year.

February 20, 2014 – EF0 near Jacksonville, Illinois
by Dan Robinson

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These maps break down December tornadoes based on where they begin.

december-tornado-touchdown-conus-grid

Though tornado season lasts all year, it’s often hard to remember that in December. The monthly average is only about two dozen twisters across the entire country.

Numbers remain very low through the winter months as moisture-laden air is often hard to come by. Like other cool-season months, the most regular tornado activity during December resides close to the relative warmth of the Gulf of Mexico.

The areas of greatest concentration — spanning mainly parts of the mid-South — are not too different than November. But as with November seeing a contraction of land coverage compared to October, we see additional shrinking of “tornado country” during December.

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These maps break down November tornadoes based on where they begin.

november-tornado-touchdown-conus-grid

There’s a slight uptick in overall tornadoes moving from October to November, though numbers remain meager compared to the heart of the season in spring and early summer.

The month is often hit-or-miss outside some normal activity nearer the Gulf. However, some of the second season attributes can be seen on the grid map above.

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These maps break down October tornadoes based on where they begin.

october-tornado-touchdown-conus-grid

Often considered part of the “second season” which sometimes occurs in fall, tornado activity is significantly down by October when compared to the yearly peak in spring and early summer.

By October, tornado territory is dwindling with the encroachment south of colder and drier air, plus tropical season peak is behind us.

Outside larger outbreaks that occur at random, a trend of fairly few tornadoes generally closer to the Gulf of Mexico becomes the norm around this time of year. U.S. tornadoes never really fully disappear, they just wane significantly.

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First, let’s call Into the Storm what it is: A low-budget, CGI heavy, summer disaster flick meant to draw those seeking a relatively cheap thrill.

(Warner Brothers)

A wedge tornado slams Silverton High School as students race away in buses. (Warner Brothers)

On that basis, the movie delivers.

If you’re a tornado aficionado, you might be left wanting to see more action, less side story, and perhaps a little more in the way of realism.

In essence, your ultimate view really depends on what you’re in the theater for and perhaps additionally what kind of weather nerd you might be.

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Weather Geeks hosts Chris Warren (left) and Dr. Marshall Shepard (right) pose with the show's first guest, Dr. Charles Doswell (center) on the Weather Geeks set.

Weather Geeks hosts Chris Warren (left) and Dr. Marshall Shepard (right) pose with the show’s first guest, Dr. Charles Doswell (center) on the Weather Geeks set. Source

My first reaction upon hearing about the premiere of a new weather-based talk show on The Weather Channel (TWC) was a mix of shock, excitement and skepticism.

The long-standing trend of TWC to shoehorn content with little to no weather focus into their TV programming and their web site has been really off-putting for me, and to have a show like this seemingly pop up out of nowhere was a shock to the system.

For those of you who are familiar with the online show WeatherBrains, Weather Geeks can mostly be boiled down to a nationally-televised version of that.

Could this new show be a sort of redemption for TWC in the eyes of weather enthusiasts like myself who have grown leery towards what TWC has become in recent years? In some ways, that’s how it was seemingly advertised: “A show produced by Meteorologists, for Weather Geeks.” That is the tagline on their Twitter account. Welly, welly, well! We shall see about that.

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On June 16, 2014 a family of tornadoes dropped from a parent supercell moving over northeast Nebraska. It was only the beginning of a multi-day tornadic event in the region. But the supercell near Pilger, NE was the most dramatic of the event and arguably the supercell of the tornado season.

First let’s talk about the large scale meteorological setup. On the 16th, an upper level storm system moving in from the pacific ocean fueled an area of lower pressure on the east side of the Rocky mountains. These two systems, combined with their slow movement, made for a mix of atmospheric ingredients that was favorable for supercells and tornadoes for multiple days. These ingredients, namely instability and wind shear we’re known well in advance and were highlighted by National Weather Service forecast offices, the Storm Prediction Center and our tornado threat forecast.

The Setup
On Monday morning the Storm Prediction Center, known as the SPC, issued their morning outlook for the day ahead. They mentioned a moderate risk for the Eastern Nebraska area saying that

“The severe threat ultimately may be greatest from Northern Kansas into Central/Eastern Nebraska…” and “Given the potent combination of buoyancy and shear in this region…significant hail and tornadoes could occur.”

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A well-structured supercell over eastern Wyoming on May 18. (Ian Livingston)

A well-structured supercell over eastern Wyoming on May 18. (Ian Livingston)

What 2014 lacked in tornadoes during our trip, it made up with good/excellent storm structure. We were on legitimate supercells every chase day but one and picked good storms, but something was missing each day that kept the tornado count virtually nil.

Daily posts | Ian’s pictures

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With the U.S. moving into the quieter summer pattern, we will no longer be doing regular updates of the Tornado Threat Forecast or the Tornado Digest this year. We may do special updates in the off-season when a strong disturbance develops.

 

June 24 - Plainfield, Indiana tornado. Via YouTube.

June 24 – Plainfield, Indiana tornado. Via YouTube.

Highlights of the week of June 22-28, and a brief look ahead.

Astronomical summer began in a way summer tends to trend, quieter than times prior when it comes to tornado activity.

Tornadoes were reported across the country on all but one day of the week last week. But, in general, everything was minor and geographically isolated.

While events ongoing early this week remind us that decent tornado activity can continue well into the summer, we’ve certainly moved out of usual peak, and the overall outlook calls for less and less shear to support significant tornado events going forward in the times ahead.

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