GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Severe weather events have left destruction across the Midwest, but what is the cause for such unusual activity in December?
State climatologist Corey Davis says temperature is at the root of it all.
“The way the weather has looked lately doesn’t look like December. It looks more like the middle of April,” said Davis.
Colder months like December create a more stable environment, giving less opportunity for severe events.
“Out to our west, they’ve seen this unseasonable warmth pretty much all month so far,” said Davis. “We are seeing a really out of character December in terms of temperatures.”
Combined with a potent jet stream, tornadoes have touched down in several states.
“The jet stream is sort of this river of air that’s flowing through the upper atmosphere,” explained Davis. “So, when the warm air to the south is even warmer and the cold to the north is even colder, that really magnifies the strength of the jet stream and the storms that it’s bringing in.”
More than 20 tornadoes were reported on Wednesday across the United States. In Minnesota, the first ever December tornado was among the reports.
First Alert Meteorologist Phillip Williams says, “Minnesota had never had a December tornado warning. They had never had a December tornado watch, and yet this time, they got that.”
While eastern North Carolina has not experienced a tornado this month, the state averages just over 30 each year.
“We are going to see more and more of these extreme events happen as we have more warming in the winter months,” said Williams.
Most of the state’s recorded tornadoes make landfall in the eastern half of the state.
“We’re pretty much the prime target for North Carolina,” said Williams. “That’s why we have to always stay vigilant to always know what to do when a tornado is coming because we do have that risk year-round.”
Shelter is the number one priority if a tornado is coming. Seek shelter low to the ground, away from any windows, and out from under any possible falling debris, should your shelter collapse.