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NOAA REPORTS TORNADO SEASON STARTS BUSY
Outbreak Underscores Value of NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA image of destruction across parts of Tennessee taken by storm surveyors from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Memphis.April 4, 2006 A warm winter contributed to a busy and deadly start to the tornado season, according to NOAA meteorologists. A total of 68 tornado reports and 26 tornado fatalities in eight states on Sunday brought the totals for the year to 355 tornado reports and 38 deaths, said Dan McCarthy, warning coordination meteorologist with the NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. Sunday's storms also caused two wind-related deaths and approximately 196 injuries. (Click NOAA image for larger view of destruction across parts of Tennessee taken by storm surveyors from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Memphis. Please credit “NOAA.”)

This is the highest total number of reports for the first three months of the year since 1999 and is a sharp contrast to last year when only 96 tornado reports and five deaths occurred by April 3. The number of deaths so far is the highest since 1998.

Meteorologists at the NOAA Storm Prediction Center are forecasting more severe weather this week. For the latest information, visit the Storm Prediction Center Web site.

NOAA image of destruction across parts of Tennessee taken by storm surveyors from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Memphis.Although seasonal forecasts of tornadoes are not possible, previous years with a busy start have produced high numbers of tornadoes throughout the year. Typically, the busiest months for tornadoes are April, May and June. (Click NOAA image for larger view of destruction across parts of Tennessee taken by storm surveyors from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Memphis. Please credit “NOAA.”)

"We've already had a busy tornado season within the past 30 days. If the pattern holds, the season could continue to be busy," McCarthy said.

The difference this year is the abnormally warm temperatures and dry conditions during the winter throughout the southern and central United States that kept water temperatures warm in the Gulf of Mexico.

NOAA image of destruction across parts of Tennessee taken by storm surveyors from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Memphis."Once a spring pattern developed in early March bringing weather systems eastward into the central United States, it combined with warm, moist air moving north from the Gulf, and created all the right ingredients for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes," McCarthy explained. (Click NOAA image for larger view of destruction across parts of Tennessee taken by storm surveyors from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Memphis. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The first large tornado outbreak of the year occurred March 12 causing a total of 142 tornado reports and eight deaths. An outbreak on March 30 produced 27 tornadoes with four injuries.

Whether for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms or flooding, a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is an essential item in every home, business or public area. NOAA Weather Radio provides immediate broadcasts of weather warnings and civil emergency messages to give those in harm's way critical lead time to respond and remain safe. Such messages include tornado warnings, flood warnings, Amber Alerts, chemical spill notifications and many others. Even when a storm knocks out power, the battery backup of NOAA Weather Radio ensures warnings will be heard.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, 61 countries and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA April 2, 2006, Storm Damage Surveys and Survey Photos

NOAA Storm Prediction Center

NOAA Tornadoes Page

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards

NOAA Storm Watch

NOAA National Weather Service

Media Contact:
Keli Tarp, NOAA Storm Prediction Center, (405) 366-0451