If you’re in some areas of the U.S. this weekend, tornadoes in the forecast may interrupt your weekend plans. With small communities around the country still reeling from the near-record number of tornadoes in 2011, predictions for the coming year’s weather may be heartbreaking. Meteorologists are predicting that an above-average number of tornadoes are anticipated in 2012. Early reports show that a total of 95 tornadoes touched down in the U.S. last month, compared to just 16 in January of 2011. Technically, the season doesn’t even start until March 1.
A storm looming for this weekend could potentially produce tornadoes in 14 states: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, North and South Carolina and Florida. The number of tornadoes each year appears to be a growing steadily. In 2011, there were 1,709 tornadoes recorded. The recent record is 1,817 in 2004. By comparison, the average number of tornadoes over the past 10 years is around 1,300.
Are you in one of the areas that could be affected by tornadoes this weekend? Use your WeatherBlink toolbar to check this weekend’s forecast or watch the latest weather news.
Many WeatherBlink readers probably indulged in a little (or a lot) of Valentine’s Day chocolate this week. Americans generally spend over $700 million on chocolate each year around Feb. 14. While there was certainly an abundance of chocolate in stores, you may be curious to know how fragile the chocolate industry is – and it all involves weather.
The precise climate needed to grow cacao trees is found in only a few places in the world; it lies exclusively within 20 degrees of the equator; however, 75 percent of cacao trees are grown within 8 degrees of the equator. While Central and South America still account for some of cacao production, most trees are grown in West Africa, where there are fewer insect pests, infectious viral diseases and fungi infestation. In addition to pests and diseases, the cacao trees survive best within a very precise temperature range: 86-90 degrees Fahrenheit, with small shifts having the potential to kill an entire harvest.
Annual chocolate sales in the U.S. fall between $17 billion and $19 billion. Worldwide, the chocolate market flirts with $100 billion each year. Switzerland is the largest consumer of chocolate; citizens consume an average of 22 pounds of chocolate per person each year, according to the National Confectioners Association.
Now we’re not saying you should rush out and stock up on chocolate, but it may be worthwhile to use your WeatherBlink app to check up on weather conditions in regions where cacao is a main product. Or just use it to see the weather forecast for your local area.
A recent study by federal climate scientists showed that last month was the 4th-warmest January on record. The national average temperature in January was 36.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 5.5 degrees above the long-term average for the month. Not only was the month the fourth warmest since 1895, when temperature recording began, but it was the warmest January since 2006.
Nine states (Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Kansas) had January temperatures that ranked in their top ten warmest for the month. The only two contiguous states that reported near-average temperatures were Florida and Washington; no states reported below-average temperatures.
Alaska is the anomaly here, however. Several Alaskan towns reported their coldest January on record and a lot of snow. In Nome, Alaska, the average temperature for January was 16.6 degrees below zero; and if that’s not cold enough for you, Bettles, Alaska, recorded temperatures of 35.6 degrees below zero. These frigid temperatures can be attributed to the jet stream, which has not fluctuated as much as normal this winter; it is part of the reason that all the cold air is being trapped over Alaska and why the U.S. is having such a mild winter.
Wondering what the temperature will be in your part of the country? Trying to plan for vacation? Download the free WeatherBlink toolbar for up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and news.