FEMA chief warns severe storms are the 'new normal' with late outbreaks in December
The recent tornado in Kentucky is part of multiple late weather occurrences to hit during the holiday season.
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Late tornadoes are becoming more common across the U.S. during the winter months with experts advising the public to stay alert and prepare when a storm watch is issued.
Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told CNN on Sunday that large impacts from storms are more expected in 2021 due to climate change.
"The effects we are seeing of climate change are the crisis of our generation. We're taking a lot of efforts at FEMA to work with communities to help reduce the impacts,” said Criswell. “This is going to be our new normal."
Tornado outbreaks, like the storms to hit Southeastern states last week, are predicted to often occur during the first half of the year, early spring into summer.
Meteorologists consider the devastating impact to take place in Mayfield, KY on Friday a ‘rare’ occurrence. In which resulted in a weekend of tornadoes across the central U.S.
One major factor that contributes to these violent storms is the unusual heat in months otherwise cold and quiet.
According to Accuweather, “an average of two dozen or so tornadoes are reported in the United States during the month of December.” Yet, recent reports show more outbreaks that are starting to move further north.
A graph posted on the Storm Prediction Center of the National Weather Service website highlighted states that had the most tornado watches in 2021.
As of the morning of Dec. 13, the amount of total lives lost in Kentucky is still undetermined. Gov. Andy Beshear believes the state’s death toll could be about 50, after stating it could be up to 100 people on Sunday.
The Courier Journal newspaper in Louisville, KY reported a number of tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service hours before the natural disaster struck. But the storm swept through the states at an alarming speed, leaving little time to find shelter.
Tornado warning lead time, the time between when a warning is given and a storm hits, remains an ongoing conversation by the weather service hoping to increase the current time from nine minutes to 13 minutes to alert areas.