4 tornadoes? NJ has had years with up to 10 of them
Although New Jersey has seen four tornadoes so far this year, state Climatologist Dave Robinson of Rutgers University said Tuesday that that number is simply on the high side of the annual average for the state.
Robinson adds the records show that we have had seasons with up to 10 twisters in a year, back in the 1970s and '80s.
As for the strength of Jersey tornadoes, he says, "they generally are of the weaker variety."
Usually they are a zero or 1 on the the Enhanced Fujita scale. There have been a few EF2 and EF3 in New Jersey but never EF4 or EF5.
"Were it to stay in the four or five six or seven range (number of tornadoes this year), I would chalk it up to an active year but nothing all that unusual. There's really no rhyme or reason, certainly no trend, in tornadic activity in New Jersey."
And while this seasons' tornadoes have not been all that severe, Robinson also says there is a lot of the warm weather season still to come, and more twisters are certainly possible.
He agrees that these sudden, seemingly out-of-nowhere, violent and potentially damaging churnings are frightening. On Saturday, an EF0 tornado in Burlington County flipped over a parked car.
Predicting them beyond the short term is practically impossible.
That said, Robinson adds: "There's been a big progress in identifying potential tornadic activity with Doppler radar that's come on the scene in recent decades. It used to be that you wouldn't issue a tornado warning until one was spotted. And by that time in New Jersey they're usually gone and back up into the clouds. But with Doppler radar, it can see circulation in the atmosphere above the surface. That can be the harbinger of a tornado dropping to the ground."
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5