North Carolina climatologist breaks down how climate change affects severe weather

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Powerful storms are sweeping across Louisiana and other areas of the South during a time of year that is particularly unusual.

WITN Meteorologist Jim Howard says, “I just think it’s unique to look at a storm in December and seeing this many tornadoes.”

Howard also explains what the devastating weather is caused by. “Cold air, warm air, clashing together. Different wind directions, different speeds, causes rotations in the atmosphere and we certainly had that with this storm.”

Different air temperatures aren’t the only factor according to North Carolina climatologist, Corey Davis.

Davis says, “What we’re starting to see now in climate change is that even during the winter time, these airmasses that are forming like over the gulf of Mexico and off to our South can still be fairly warm and very tropical almost and that can pull airmasses from the North and create this severe weather environment during the times of the year where we just really never had to worry about the kind of impact in the past.”

Experts also say seeing systems as damaging as these recent storms is rare. “Nationwide, December is the most quiet month out of all the months. The average number of tornadoes in December in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama is about three tornadoes throughout the month of December on average. We’ve got 35 tornado reports yesterday, it was quite an outbreak, certainly by December standards,” Howard explains.

Though this isn’t the kind of weather anyone wants to see, Davis anticipates more. “We do expect to see that these so called off seasons severe weather events happening during the wintertime will become more common. We’re already seeing that these shoulder seasons, the fall and the spring, are going to encroach in our wintertime.”

Along with the extreme severe weather Louisiana is experiencing, here in the East, we’re also currently seeing rain from the same system that could in return help the drought we’re seeing in our area according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

This is the second December in a row we’re seeing devastating tornadoes.

Last year, a tornado killed a total of 57 people during its unusually long trek through Western Kentucky.