Tornadoes are one of the most deadly weather events in the United States. They are most common in the southern Plains and Deep South but occasionally occur as far north as the Upper Midwest and Ohio Valley.
The occurrence of tornadoes is highly dependent on the weather conditions of each area. Spring and summer are usually the most active times of year. These are the times when warm, moist air meets a cold, dry air mass that has moved over land from the Arctic region of the North Atlantic Ocean.
It is often possible to forecast tornadoes up to a week in advance of the storm. That is why the Air Force has been using these predictions for decades.
In March 1948, however, an outbreak of tornadoes swept across the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. This caused two fatalities and several injuries.
For three days, Miller and Fawbush poured over surface and upper-air weather charts and reviewed past tornadic outbreaks. They noticed certain patterns of phenomena and believed they might be able to predict future tornadoes if they could see what was in the air.
Until March 25, 1948, no United States meteorologist had made an official forecast or warning of a tornado-producing thunderstorm. That day, Major Ernest J. Fawbush issued the first official forecast of a tornado, which was accompanied by a tornado warning.
The history of tornado forecasting is interesting because it shows that even in the 1800s tornadoes were a real threat to people and their property. It is also a fascinating reminder that tornadoes can happen anywhere in the world and that we don’t always know what we are going to get.