California Tornadoes

Saturday, March 29, 2014
A storm system in California Wednesday produced a number of mostly small and relatively weak tornadoes. Social media resonated with non-meteorologists making claims about weird and changing weather. However, California has a history of tornadoes. Though not as common as in the Great Plains, California gets tornadoes almost every year. They usually happen in winter and spring when powerful low-pressure systems move in from the Pacific Ocean with strong rotation. California tornadoes tend to be weaker than in the Great Plains because California weather rarely sets up with contrasting temperature and humidity conditions like what we often get in the Plains around frontal systems. The states with the fewest tornadoes per square mile are Alaska and Hawaii. John Wheeler

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