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Weather Talk: Oklahoma is OK with few tornadoes this year

Caddo County, just west of Oklahoma City, has been hit by at least 111 tornadoes from 1950 through 2012. The rest of central Oklahoma is about as unlucky.

Geography is to blame, particularly from mid-April through mid-June when conditions ideal for tornadoes occur with regular frequency.

The Gulf of Mexico and its warm, humid air is close by to the south. Just to the west and northwest is Colorado and, in particular, the Colorado Front Range with its peaks to 13,000 feet.

The Front Range acts to strengthen low pressure areas that draw dry air from the west and humidity from the south. The southerly winds near the ground undercut the dry air blowing in rapidly from the west/northwest, which creates rapidly rising air and spin.

The result, more often than any other place in the world, is tornadoes.

This year, however, due to a cool early spring and a dry pattern, there were no tornadoes in Oklahoma through April and since then only 19 tornadoes statewide with zero deaths or injuries.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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