Zack's Weather Facts: Tornadoes during fall season

It was a scary and dangerous finish to October. During Halloween weekend, central Texas not only experienced another record-breaking flood, but this time around, it also came with the threat of tornadoes.

Over the years, we've seen plenty of autumn floods but not too many tornadoes. Today FOX 7 meteorologist Zack Shields takes a look at what set off the tornadoes and how often they occur this late in the year.

The storm survey is in from the National Weather Service, and it shows four tornadoes happened just south of the Austin area. The closest one was a few miles away from San Marcos. Two of them were EF 2’s, with estimated winds of 110 to 120 mph in Geronimo and Floresville.

A strong pacific low and a warm front teamed up to produce enough wind shear. Near the ground, the winds were coming in from the southeast with a warm front, and winds aloft were coming in from the west thanks to the pacific low. This combination helped to produce enough spinning within in the storm to support tornadic storms.

Tornadoes can happen anytime of the year. Most of them occur during the spring and then a small uptick in the fall.

Since 1953, the central Texas area has seen six tornadoes in October and 20 in November— all in the range of EF 0’s and EF 2’s.

As many central Texans are wonder, why the second severe season? Strong cold fronts begin to plunge southward, colliding with summer's remnants: the warm and humid air. This interaction fuels severe storms. At the same time, there are fast-moving winds in the upper levels, diving southward with front. These winds will add spin in the atmosphere allowing storms to erupt and spawn tornadoes.

The Deep South is becoming the second tornado alley, not only in the spring but also in the fall and winter— happening when the atmosphere is transitioning from hot to cold, allowing severe weather to happen.

Meteorologist Zack Shields can answer weather questions via email me at weather@fox7.com. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with weather updates.

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