The first three months of 2008 have been one of the most active on record with regard to severe weather, with approximately 500 reports of tornadoes already, making forecasters wonder what the traditionally worst months of April, May and June have in store.  Well, if the first few days of April are any indication, the people at the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) are going to have their hands full this Spring.  April 4 ended up being one of those very active days.  The image on the right shows there were 176 reports of severe weather across the southeast on that day alone.  Many of them were reports of hail and high wind, but there were also 14 tornadoes reported, adding to the record breaking year we've already had. If there's any good news, though, I don't think any lives were lost on this day.
                                                                                                               This is an image of storm reports from April 4, 2008, showing a large area from Texas to North Carolina with       
                                                                                                               either tornadoes, hail or high wind reports, courtesy of the SPC.

When forecasters at the SPC see the ingredients coming together for an outbreak of severe thunderstorms which includes tornadoes, they issue a tornado watch warning the public that tornadoes are possible within the watch area.  The image below outlines the area from central Alabama to much of Louisiana covered by a tornado watch on the afternoon of April 4.  As you can see, a long line of storms was moving into the area, heightening the risk of severe weather.  Besides this, there are so many other variables that forecasters at the SPC look at before issuing a tornado watch.  Throughout this report, I'm going to further examine some of these parameters that made tornadoes possible in this area, beginning with the synoptic-scale environment.

This is an image outlining a tornado watch on April 4, 2008 valid from 9:50 AM until 6:00 PM CDT,
courtesy of the SPC.

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