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tornado
A January 21 tornado near Little Rock, Arkansas
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CNN's Rick Lockridge reports on the wacky January weather
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Ed O'Lenic of the National Weather Service explains weather patterns
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  • Tornadoes? Snow? Weather chaos? Don't blame La Nina, meteorologist says

    (CNN) -- It's been a chaotic and deadly January. Already:

  • Out-of-season twisters terrorized the American South.
  • Buffalo, New York, saw 6 feet of snow in the first two weeks of 1999.
  • A record snowstorm in Chicago dumped 18 inches in a weekend.

    Some have been quick to blame La Nina, the cold-hearted sister of El Nino.

    But not so fast, says E. O'Lenic of the National Weather Service.

    He says that La Nina's cooling effect on the Pacific Ocean does play a role in the movement of large air masses and can therefore affect a particular region's climate for weeks or months.

    But O'Lenic says it doesn't act on a small enough scale to cause individual storms.

    snow
    Massive January snow accumulation in Buffalo, New York   

    "If we look at past La Ninas and El Ninos, severe weather doesn't favor either one," O'Lenic said. "It actually seems to occur in the normal years in-between."

    That explanation is not likely to satisfy those who have suffered through this winter's many extremes.

    But O'Lenic says violent weather will happen when it happens, and just because a hundred tornadoes hit the South in the middle of a La Nina event doesn't mean there's a connection.

    "It was unusual, but it wasn't attributable to La Nina," O'Lenic said.

    And now, shirtsleeve weather in January. If we can't blame La Nina, maybe another Spanish phrase will do: "Clima Loco" -- crazy weather.


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    RELATED SITES:
    NOAA La Nina Website
    The Weather Channel - Encyclop¾dia Britannica - Tornadoes
    Overview of Climate Change Issues in Asia and the Pacific
    National Weather Service
    FEMA - Fact Sheet - TORNADOES
    The Tornado Project Online!
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