What is it about?

A 54-year study of events that produced significant tornadoes (rated F2 or greater) in the southern Appalachian region. The study was conducted in order to 1) investigate the observed relative minimum of tornadoes in the Great Tennessee Valley, 2) test a hypothesis about whether northwest or southwest mid-level wind flow caused tornadoes to be confined to the Great Tennessee Valley or Cumberland Plateau, 3) examine common operational forecasting techniques often used to determine potentially tornadic environments, and 4) compare the patterns associated with significant, outbreak, and weak tornado events.

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Why is it important?

The study determined which forecasting methods were important to anticipating significant tornadoes in the mountainous terrain of the southern Appalachian region. Also, the effects of terrain on tornadoes were examined since the southern Appalachian region is a good natural laboratory of complex terrain and decent tornado frequency. It was also found that wind dynamics were more important than instability in the distinction between weak and significant tornado events.


We wanted to examine different forecasting methods to determine which ones were useful in forecasting strong tornadoes in the complex terrain of the southern Appalachian region.

David Morris Gaffin
National Weather Service

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A Climatology of Synoptic Conditions Associated with Significant Tornadoes across the Southern Appalachian Region, Weather and Forecasting, October 2006, American Meteorological Society, DOI: 10.1175/waf951.1.
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