El Nino Could Spell a Very Tornado-Active Fall for Oklahoma
There have been so many bold predictions about the weather remaining in 2023, it's hard to pick a forecast to believe in.
Farmers Almanac says we'll be brutally cold and icy all winter, Old Farmers Almanac suggests we'll be warm and wet, some meteorologists are predicting massive snow amounts, and here's a fall 2023 prediction that might actually have a little measure.
With an El Nino in the Pacific, the warm weather patterns could mean severe weather and tornadoes as summer turns to fall, and past similar seasons indicate that could be more than just a gut feeling.
One of the most powerful El Nino events on record occurred during 1997 and 1998. I vividly remember this period of time because my cousin Matthew bootlegged me a PC copy of Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit and the hot car in the game was dubbed the El Nino.
It was a record-setting period of time for most of Oklahoma up to that point, and a shockingly active second tornado season that came that fall in the leadup to Halloween.
You might be thinking "There's no way we're going to have tornadoes in the fall, that's not how Oklahoma weather works..." but you'd be wrong. October is the fifth most-active tornado month on our calendar behind the big-four spring months.
There has been a grand total of 129 confirmed October tornadoes since 1950 in Oklahoma, with a heavy emphasis on October 1997.
During that "most powerful" El Nino period in 97-98, the month of October produced 27 tornadoes across the Sooner State.
Fair point, but are fall tornadoes as big as spring twisters?
Well, it's complicated.
On average, fall tornadoes aren't as powerful as spring tornadoes, but there are exceptions. We've recorded a destructive F4 twister in October before. We've also experienced quite a few abnormally wide F2 events also, but size isn't an accurate scale for describing tornadoes.
Size doesn't matter, destruction does.
As we've discussed before, the Fujita and modern-day Enhanced Fujita scales don't measure wind speed, funnel size, etc... they only measure damage. That's how the biggest tornado ever recorded on the planet only scored a measly F3.
What are the odds of a tornadic fall? Hard to say due to the equally unpredictable nature of El Nino... but on the plus side, a whole new generation might experience a truly unique weather phenomenon.
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