The Tornado Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma is the nerve center for severe storm forecasting for the continental U.S.
"The forecasters here are evaluating weather conditions over the lower 48 states, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, attempting to pinpoint where tornadoes and severe storms can form," explained meteorologist Greg Carbin.
Working with the best equipment in the country, meteorologists are researching how the recent chilly spring might impact severe storm development this year. They say below normal temperatures in May appear to correspond with above normal tornado activity in the U.S.
This year, there have been about a dozen confirmed twisters in the D.C. area. While we usually don't get many tornadoes, scientists say that areas east of the Appalachians through the Mid-Atlantic are seeing more pronounced levels of severe weather. That includes tornadoes, and meteorologists in Oklahoma may be issuing more frequent watches for us in the future.
"If you look at maps of tornado frequency, you see a small increase in tornado potential from the Carolinas up through the DelMarVa,” explained Carbin. “It's almost a small corridor of greater severe weather that exists to the east of the Appalachian mountains."
We are now entering the heart of severe weather season in the Mid-Atlantic. June and July on average are the busiest months. And while meteorologists keep an eye on the longer range models, even the best tornado forecasters in the country, like those in Oklahoma, can reliably predict conditions ripe for tornadoes six days in advance at best.