Tornado Digest: March comes to life, especially in California; ramping up to start peak season

March 29, 2014 in northern California. (NWS Sacramento)

March 29, 2014 in northern California. (NWS Sacramento)

It’s “tornado season” again, maybe. March has been extremely quiet any way you cut it when it comes to severe weather — winter just keeps on coming. However, as we got through the last week of March, spring storms became more commonplace. With that, we rev Tornado Digest back up. Never heard of it? It used to be called Tornado Weekly.

While we’ll probably mainly focus on peak season again this year, the name change will allow for Tornado Digests to show up for reasons other than just a weekly recap.

Anyway, on to this past week’s show, and a brief look to the future.

California visited by supercells on two days

Tornado warnings and reports in northern California on March 26 and 29, 2014. (ustornadoes.com)

Tornado warnings and reports in northern California on March 26 and 29, 2014. (ustornadoes.com)

March 26…

As a shortwave trough came ashore during the day, active weather sprung up across the state. March is the peak of tornado season in California many years. Two dominant supercells formed in the northern part of the Central Valley, with a number of tornadoes reported, including three confirmed EF1s in Glenn County, CA.

3/26 Northern Cell…

3/26 Southern Cell…

March 29…

Severe weather visited the same general region as on March 26, but the storm of the day was a little north of the one which produced a tornado near Willows, Ca. earlier in the week.

First minor severe weather event of the spring

Convective watches, tornado warnings, and reports across the south central U.S. March 27-29, 2014. (ustornadoes.com)

Convective watches, tornado warnings, and reports across the south central U.S. March 27-29, 2014. (ustornadoes.com)

Tornado activity with the first system to drop a twister in California spread into the Ozarks and surrounds on March 27, spinning up three tornadoes across north-central Missouri among other reports in places like Iowa. Severe weather continued south and east through the next two days, with tornado touchdowns confirmed around Orlando, FL. and Raleigh, NC. late on the 29th.

March 27…

March 29…

Ramping up?

This coming week promises to be active. An upper-level trough pushing through the western United States eventually ejects out past the Rockies as we get toward mid-to-late in the work week.

Depending on moisture return and capping, supercells become possible in the Plains as soon as Tuesday, with the tornado threat edging up in the days to follow. A crescendo of activity may occur on Thursday across parts of the eastern Plains into the Mid South, but Wednesday may be extra tornadic as well. Severe weather is also likely to persist east into at least Friday.

0z 3/31 European model at 500mb Thursday evening shows a trough headed toward negative tilt over the Plains. (Weatherbell.com)

0z 3/31 European model at 500mb Thursday eve shows a trough headed toward negative tilt. (Weatherbel.com)

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Defense and foreign policy researcher at a D.C. think tank. Information lead for the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.