An unusual trait of the tornado outbreak that afflicted so much of the southeast this week, on top of it coming in late February instead of a month later, was how closely even the strongest tornadoes were to the coast. There were four EF-3 twisters total between the two days of the outbreak, Tuesday and Wednesday. Three of them were within 25 miles of the sea.
Among the storms were one south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, another through Pensacola, the storm that found it’s way through the densest population, and the last, a big twister that hit Tappahannock, Virginia, pictured above. Thankfully, of these storms, only 2 people were killed, though 9 have perished in total because of the 50+ twisters that raked the country this week.
Tornadoes can be a little less frequent along the coast because of cooler temperatures over the water than is found over land. This prevents the same kind of updrafts as are found with land borne storms, and can often lead to weakening storms near the coast. This time of year, however, with temperatures a bit cooler, the gradient between land and sea is less drastic, and storms can continue off and on shore.
The important lesson, of course, is that even though storms may not always be as likely, they still might be possible. Pay attention to warnings and forecasts in case today is the day with an exception to the rule.