The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

May 9, 2013

Iowa nears another weather record

DES MOINES — Less than a month after torrential rains shattered records and a May snowstorm did the same, Iowa is on the cusp of another weather record.

This one, though, is welcome.

Iowa appears likely to break the all-time tornado cessation record, the longest period between reported tornadoes in the state. The most recent tornado was May 24, 2012. That means that, as of the end of Wednesday, a whopping 349 days have passed without a tornado.

The record is 355 days, from May 5, 1955 to April 26, 1956. Assuming the weather doesn't take a major turn, Iowa will tie the record on Tuesday and break it next Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service, forecasters expect the severe weather threat to stay low through early Tuesday. But a front will move through the state late Tuesday and bring a chance of thunderstorms. If those turn severe, it could be close.

Experts say the streak is probably more impressive than it appears at first glance. The evolution of radar and satellite tracking along with large numbers of storm spotters means there is much more evidence and tracking for today's weather. In fact, it's difficult to imagine a tornado forming today without someone noticing and, at minimum, snapping a cell phone photo.

That wasn't the case back in the 1950s. It's possible, though not guaranteed, that a tornado could have formed sometime during the 1955-56 streak and simply not have been noticed.

People should not read much into the streak as it regards the future. There will be tornadoes in Iowa again, and we're most likely going to see major outbreaks at some point. Remember, it only takes one tornado to make severe weather season a bad one if it happens to hit your home.

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