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Expert Explains Possibility of Tornadoes Happening in RGV

3 years 9 months 3 weeks ago Monday, May 01 2017 May 1, 2017 May 01, 2017 5:45 PM May 01, 2017 in News

WESLACO – The Rio Grande Valley isn’t near tornado alley but there is a chance those types of storms can happen. All that is needed is a tropical push.

People in Canton, Texas are continuing to recover after a severe tornado hit their city. People in Willacy County recalled when a tornado hit their home about a year and a half ago.

“Things started to shift and move and you could kind of hear it across the patio floor, kind of scrapping along, like ‘Okay, that’s not normal,’” Los Coyotes resident Judy Guerra said.

Her neighborhood took a major hit back in 2015. Even though the tornado was destructive, it wasn’t the same like the ones that happen up north.

“There is a possibility though. We rarely see it that you could get one of the larger type tornadoes that could produce more widespread type damage,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith said.

Tornadoes form typically during a thunderstorm, when warm moist air collides with cold dry air. It causes an updraft which shifts the winds from horizontal to vertical.

In the Valley it’s difficult for all the pieces to come together mainly because of the location.

“We have the Sierra Madre mountain range and winds that come off of that tend to slope and compress and bring dry air into the middle to lower parts of the atmosphere and set up what’s called a capping inversion,” Goldsmith said.

It acts as a sort of barrier for tornadoes to form.

“We don’t want to ever say never, but it takes a lot more rare situations, puzzle pieces coming together to make that happen here,” Goldsmith said.

Although it is difficult for them to form it is possible, like in Willacy County. In order for it to happen there needs to be a push form the tropics, such as hurricane or tropical storm.

“Those tendrils on the outer bands, there are still spinning nice and rapidly down and low. They are spinning. What happens when you get spinning bands? Thunderstorms develop and anything spinning in a thunderstorm and produce low level tornado,” Goldsmith said.

He said the time the Valley can see a tornado is in the summer and early fall months.

The National Weather Service reports an average of about two to four tornadoes a year for the Valley. Most of them do not last very long and are usually in the ranchland areas.

Tips to Stay Safe during a Tornado:

  • If you’re in a home or a building, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and crouch down close to the floor
  • If you’re caught outdoors and cannot get to a safe building, as a last resort, you should immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seatbelt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • Do not take shelter under an overpass.

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