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Claude Nolan
May 102013

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NORMAN, Okla.) — Just two years after the worst 12 month period for EF1 or stronger tornados in U.S. history, the country got a big break, as new research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that last year saw a record low number of severe twisters.

From May 2010 to April 2011, the United States was hit by over 1,000 big tornados, causing more than 535 deaths. The most recent period, from May of last year until this past April, saw only seven tornado fatalities, and less than 200 tornadoes recorded.

According to Harold Brooks, a scientist with the National Severe Storm Lab in Norman, Oklah., it’s “the fewest number of tornado fatalities in a 12 month period since the 19th century.”

Scientists have data about tornados and tornado-related deaths going back to 1954.

Why has the nation been so lucky on this front compared to two years ago? Experts say that a hot summer and a cold winter are factors.

“In the summer-time, when it’s very hot, what we tend to have is the jet-stream is located far north into Canada, and it tends to be very dry at the surface, that’s why we have droughts,” explained Brooks. “When the jet-stream is that far north, the change in the winds with height is weak over the middle part of the country and so none of the ingredients come together to produce the kinds of environments we want to have for tornadoes.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jan 092013

Burke/Triolo Productions/Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Last year was a brutally hot one in the contiguous U.S.

Not only did the average temperature of 55.3 degrees prove to be the hottest recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, beating the 1998 record by one degree, but that same temp was 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th-century average.

Dialing it back to the previous year, NOAA said the 16-month stretch from June 2011 through September 2012 featured above normal temperatures during each of those months — the longest period of higher-than-normal heat since records started being kept in 1895.

And if you’re thinking this has something to do with climate change, federal scientists are telling Americans to go right ahead and think that because it’s what they believe too.

Thomas R. Karl, who directs NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, says we should expect to see periods of sustained warmth from here on in, adding, “That doesn’t mean every season and every year is going to be breaking all-time records, but you’re going to see this with increasing frequency.”

This also means that a pledge by world leaders in 2009 to keep global temperatures from rising above pre-industrial levels by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit before the end of the century is likely not possible.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Nov 302012

NASA GOES Project(NEW YORK) — The 2012 hurricane season, a time period that produced 19 named storms, including 10 hurricanes and one post-tropical cyclone called Sandy, officially comes to an end on Friday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says 2012 was an above-average year for storms.  The average annual number of named storms is 12, with six being the average yearly number of hurricanes.  The hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

The past season marks the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating impacts from a named storm: Sandy this year, and Hurricane Irene in 2011.

This year also included tropical storms Beryl and Debby in Florida and Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana.

Sandy was not officially a hurricane when it made landfall in New Jersey last month — it is officially categorized as post-tropical Cyclone Sandy — but it certainly delivered hurricane-level death and devastation.

New Jersey is asking the federal government for some $30 billion in aid to help rebuild, while New York state has petitioned Uncle Sam for $39 billion in rebuilding assistance.

Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, says this year proves that it’s “wrong to think that only major hurricanes can ruin lives and impact local economics.”

NOAA notes that for the seventh consecutive year, no major hurricanes — those storms labeled Category 3, 4 and 5 — hit the U.S.

The only major hurricane this season was Hurricane Michael, which was a Category 3 storm that stayed out in the Atlantic.

The federal agency says it will release its pre-season outlook for the 2013 hurricane season in May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio