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Abnormal temperatures fueled tornado outbreak, meteorologist says

Abnormal temperatures fuel tornado outbreak
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 6:13 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2021 at 8:28 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Hundreds are missing and at least 88 are dead after the series of tornadoes that struck the Midwest on Friday and Saturday.

There were at least 50 tornado reports in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee.

WITN meteorologists explained that one of the many contributing factors of the devastating tornadoes was the collision of cold air systems moving south from Canada with the warmer air systems in the Midwest.

“The warmer the air, the more moisture we have, the greater the instability, and there was a lot of instability when that cold front plowed into that warm air,” WITN meteorologist Jim Howard said.

Weather experts explain that the instability causes the atmosphere to become more unsettled and can cause large outbreaks like the one over the weekend.

“If it had stayed on the ground,” Howard continued, “...it would be the longest single-track tornado ever recorded.”

The outbreak over the weekend was expected to track over 250 miles long.

The National Weather Service says the only tornado outbreak with a longer path was the Tri-State tornado in 1925 that went over Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.

“As we head into the winter season, it looks like the trend will be continued above-normal temps. Not to say something like this will happen again but we may see an uptick in the number of storms going into the winter.”

Jim Howard, WITN meteorologist

Several nonprofit organizations in North Carolina have sent volunteers to various states to help aid in tornado relief.

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