Scientists hone long-range forecasting of U.S. tornadoes, hail

Scientists at Northern Illinois University are honing extended-range weather forecasting, identifying patterns halfway around the globe that will heighten the probability of hail- and tornado-producing storms in the United States weeks later.

The U.S. National Science Foundation-supported research identifies specific orientations of atmospheric phenomena occurring near the equator over the Maritime Continent that increase the probability of severe U.S. weather events three to four weeks later. Using the information to create extended-range forecasts would provide more time to raise awareness of severe weather and potentially save lives and property.

Combing through data from 1979 to 2019, the scientists found 100 instances of significant fluctuations that had occurred in the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO — a major disturbance of wind, rain and pressure — and looked for correlations with severe U.S. weather weeks later.

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