The same weather phenomenon that brought unusually cold temperatures to the East Coast this spring is being blamed for the massive and devastating tornadoes that tore through Oklahoma this week: A jet stream that refused to leave.
Weather forecasters tracked this year’s jet stream — the pattern of high-altitude winds — as moving farther south, and staying farther south, for a longer period than usual. That meant warm air was trapped in the Gulf of Mexico and couldn’t move north. And that set the stage for tornadoes, meteorologists said, in The New York Times.
“The jet stream was stuck in place,” said Jeffrey Masters, director of meteorology for Weather Underground, in The Times. “It kept funneling cold air down.”
This month, the jet stream started to move north.
“The pattern broke, and then wham,” he said.
A dozen tornadoes hit last week in North Texas, killing six and destroying a housing subdivision, The Times reported. And then this week, tornadoes struck Oklahoma, with 24 confirmed deaths, including nine children.