Worsening drought conditions across much of the country might come with some small benefit.
University of Missouri Climatologist Pat Guinan says the correlation is simple. Less rain means less severe weather. “If there ever is a positive impact due to drought, I guess that would be one of the very few things, in regard to the lack of severe weather.”
Guinan says the month of May, 2012 saw roughly a third of the usual number of tornadoes in the U.S. and no tornado-related fatalities. That’s in stark contrast to May of last year, when over 175 people died in tornadoes in the U.S.
Guinan says few would see the trade of drought for severe weather as reason to celebrate though, because drought effects a far greater area and number of people than an isolated thunderstorm or tornado. This drought is no exception, and extends well beyond Missouri.
“With this emerging drought that began as early as April in southeastern Missouri and has spread northward in the month of May and is pretty much now covering the entire state of Missouri, and beyond that much of Kansas, parts of southeast Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois over into southern Wisconsin, Indiana down into Kentucky to the sea, even in Arkansas.”
Areas in and near Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia, where severe weather hit on Friday, are classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor as “abnormally dry.”
Guinan says the central U.S. remains under the influence of high pressure that has kept severe weather at bay, while the jet stream has also remained unusually far to the north, keeping more active weather to the northern U.S.
AUDIO: Mike Lear interviews Pat Guinan, 15:50