LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – While a big chunk of the nation deals with snow and ice, the U.S. is poised to end January and February with the fewest bouts of severe weather in decades.
The Storm Prediction Center noted Tuesday that only three severe weather watches have been issued in 2015 — and none in more than 50 days. Only once since 1970 has February passed with no severe weather watches.
"If it means anything, it means don't count on it remaining quiet," said Greg Carbin, the center's warning coordination meteorologist.
Recent weather patterns that brought cold, snow and ice to the East revealed only a "very, very weak correlation" with a drop in severe weather, Carbin said. "It can be partially credited to a quieter start to severe weather."
While storms bearing snow or sleet have included lightning and thunder, their volatility doesn't compare with what is needed to prompt widespread watches for possible tornadoes or severe storms, Carbin said.
The last time the nation went more than 50 days without a tornado watch or severe thunderstorm watch was in the winter of 1989-90.
Streaks don't last.
"The tricky thing, when you look at this, is it only takes a few days to bring the elements together for severe weather," Carbin said.
Meanwhile, ice and snow has kept many emergency managers busy — even in the South.
"It doesn't seem like there's been a break," said David Maxwell, the director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. "It's always something.
"Everyone looks forward to those first warm days of spring. In my business, I worry about them because the temperatures go up. There are more chances for a tornado," Maxwell said.
Carbin spoke from the Tornado Summit convention in Oklahoma City. While the meeting has had tornadoes nearby in years past, this year it snowed.
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