It’s an El Nina year, and that means more storms and a hot summer ahead if history repeats itself.

Tony Lupo is a professor of atmospheric science at the Univeristy of Missouri. He says a look at the weather in 2002 and 2003 gives us a glimpse of what to expect in the coming months. However, Lupo says last time cold arctic air collided with warm air from the Gulf with an active jet stream, there were 109 tornadoes in the Midwest.

And that’s not all… hail, lightning and flash flooding are bound to be prevalent as well.

An active spring storm season will likely be followed by a warmer than average summer. On the upside, it should be a good growing season for farmers.

Lupo stresses nothing is set in stone. He says this winter season was the 13th coldest winter since the 1890s and, despite a slight warming trend in late February, much of the northern U.S. still has a snow pack that will create cooler-than-normal conditions into the spring months.

View Lupo talking about severe weather ahead at:  
“Similar to the 2002-2003 season, scientists have recorded a weak El Nina temperature trend in the Pacific Ocean, a colder than usual winter in the Midwest, and a jet stream running through the southern portion of the United States, all of which indicate a stormier season,” he says. “A weak El Nino tends to create warmer and very moist air that is pushed into the central U.S by the jet stream,” Lupo said. “The collision of this air with prevailing colder air triggers a clash of cold and warm air masses that produce strong thunderstorms.”
Mid-March to June is considered the Midwest storm season with stronger outbreaks occurring in late March and April when leftover winter air still lingers over the Midwest. 

“We’ve been stuck in a prolonged period of winter weather that could change quickly into a stormy spring,” Lupo said.
Lupo received his doctorate from Purdue in 1995 and is currently the principal investigator at the Global Climate Change Group. The Global Climate Change Group investigates how global climate change may impact long-term weather patterns and the growing season in the Midwest. He has written 34 papers on factors that influence large-scale weather patterns. Lupo is also a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in October 2007.

Jessica Machetta reports [Download, listen Mp3]