Why the tornado in Bedford County was so rare

Shelbyville barn (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Wednesday, April 5, Middle Tennessee saw two EF-1 tornadoes touch down in the area. One was in Warren County and the other in Bedford County.

The tornado in Bedford was actually a anticyclonic landspout tornado, which is very rare. That may sound foreign to most people, so let me break it down for you.

Ninety-nine percent of tornadoes that touch down in the Northern Hemisphere are cyclonic, meaning they rotate counterclockwise. The one in Bedford County rotated clockwise, which is why it’s called anticyclonic.

Believe it or not, there was actually another anticyclonic tornado that touched down in Henry County, Kentucky, making it even more unique.

(Graphic: WKRN)

A landspout tornado forms not due to the rotation in the thunderstorm. It actually forms below the thunderstorm due to strong swirling winds closer to the ground that then get pulled back into the thunderstorm.

That is why a lot of the video from the Shelbyville tornado looked like swirling debris on the ground.

It takes a while for that column of swirling air to get color all the way back into the cloud. Also, there was no tornado warning on that cell because the thunderstorm itself was rotating.

(Graphic: WKRN)

It was below the radar beam that the rotation was occurring, and that is why it’s so important to have viewers recording these events safely. This helps us confirm things the radar can’t see.

This week’s storms brought our tornado count this year up to 12, which is more than the eight we typically see. Unfortunately, we still have to get through the rest of April and all of May, which is our peak month for tornadoes.

Be sure to stay weather aware by downloading our WKRN Wx app and tracking the storms on our interactive radar.