When the thought of severe weather comes to mind, November is probably not one of the months you think of. Typically severe weather is associated with the spring and summer months. However, November is actually what is referred to as the secondary severe weather season, as a spike in severe weather events occurs.
In fact, some of the strongest tornadoes to strike the state have occurred in November as strong lows form in the Plains and pull in warmer air from the Gulf of Mexico and cold, dry air from Canada, creating a strong temperature gradient. This includes the Washington tornado and the East Peoria tornado, each of which were rated EF4. Together, these tornadoes were responsible for five fatalities and over 125 injuries.
Meteorologists say there is one component in particular that is present in November that helps support these dangerous storms.
“When you have a strong storm system in November you’re going to have high levels of wind shear, which are needed for…which are important in severe thunderstorms and sometimes tornadoes,” says Ricky Castro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chicago.
And, while there may not be extreme warmth or high moisture content in November, it is important to note that severe weather is still very much possible.
“If you get a day with highs in the 60’s and dew points in the 50’s, that’s going to be enough. That’s the thing, it’s not going to feel the same as commonly what you experience in a spring or summer severe weather setup,” Castro says.
So, although we may be in the fall or winter, it is important to take severe weather events seriously because of what they are capable of.
“A lot of times, these type of systems that come through can actually produce large, damaging tornadoes, and by large I mean E-F-2 or greater,” says Chief Meteorologist Candice King.
It is important to always have a severe weather plan in place, even during the cold season.