Rare January tornado outbreak kills two, injures 100 in Alabama

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:46 PM GMT on January 23, 2012

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The calendar says it's the coldest month of winter, but today's weather is more typical of March, as a vigorous spring-like storm system has spawned a rare and deadly January tornado outbreak. Twenty tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee last night and this morning, killing at least two, injuring 100, and causing major damage. Two deaths were reported in Canter Point and one unconfirmed death in Oak Grove in Alabama, from a tornado that ripped through the area near 3:30 am EST. The deaths were the first of the 2012 tornado season. In Clanton, about 50 miles south of Birmingham, Alabama, a separate tornado hit near 8:12 am EST this morning, trapping people in overturned trailer homes, destroying the WKLF radio studio, and toppling a 302-foot high transmission tower.


Figure 1. Satellite image taken at 9:45 am EST Monday January 23, 2012, of the major spring-like storm that spawned tornadoes over the Southern U.S. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 2. Radar reflectivity image of the tornado that hit Clanton, Alabama this morning, trapping people in overturned trailer homes, destroying the WKLF radio studio, and toppling a 302-foot high transmission tower.

Significant historical January tornado outbreaks
Historically, January has been the least active month for tornadoes in the U.S. According to the Tornado History Project, during the 61-year period 1950 - 2010, 1223 January tornadoes occurred--an average of twenty per year. There have been two Januarys with no reported tornadoes--2003 and 1986. Thus far in 2012, there have been 44 preliminary tornado reports, so we are already at double the historical January average, with a week still to go in the month. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has put Alabama and Georgia in their "Slight Risk" area for severe weather the remainder of today, so it is likely we will add a few more tornadoes to this month's tally before the outbreak is finished. January 2012 appears likely to become one of the top-five busiest months for January tornadoes in recorded history. Only four years since 1950 have had more than 50 January tornadoes:

January 1999 218
January 2008 88
January 1975 54
January 1997 50

The most recent significant January tornado outbreak occurred last year on January 1, 2011, when seven tornadoes, including two EF-3s, touched down in Mississippi, injuring two people.

The most prolific January tornado outbreak on record occurred January 21 - 22, 1999, when 126 tornadoes, including one violent F-4, hit Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, and Alabama, killing nine people. A separate outbreak four days earlier, on January 17, spawned 22 tornadoes.

On January 7 - 11, 2008, a series of 75 tornadoes hit the U.S. This second busiest-ever U.S. January tornado outbreak hit southwestern Missouri, northwestern Arkansas and the surrounding areas the hardest. A strong supercell in northern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin produced that region's first January tornadoes since 1967. Four people were killed, and the tornadoes did $88 million in damage. Fifteen strong EF-2 and EF-3 tornadoes were reported.

The deadliest January tornado since record keeping began in 1950 occurred on January 23, 1969, when an F-4 tornado hit a 5-county region south of Jackson Mississippi, killing 32 people.

Spring-like thunderstorms hit Chicago
Thunderstorms along the cold front from the storm that spawned today's deadly tornadoes rumbled through Chicago, Illinois last night, dropping over one-half inch of rain on ground covered by four inches of snow. Spring-like January thunderstorms in Chicago used to be a rare occurrence, but have become increasingly common in recent years. During the 50-year period 1947- 1996, Chicago's O'Hare Airport recorded ten days with thunder, on days when the high temperature reached at least 40°F. In the 16-year period 1997- 2012, there have been nine such days, so January spring-like thunderstorms have roughly tripled in frequency in Chicago in recent years. January 2008 set the record for most January thunderstorm days in Chicago, with three.

Big solar flare headed toward Earth
This morning at 03:39 UTC, big sunspot 1402 erupted, sending a coronal mass ejection (CME) headed towards Earth. This CME is expected to set off a solar storm on January 24 - 25. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center is advising that high-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms; long-duration storms may cause transformer damage. Satellite orientation irregularities may occur; possible changes in satellite drag affect orbit predictions. HF radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes, and aurora may be seen as low as New York, Idaho, mid-Aleutians. According to NOAA, this is the strongest solar storm since May 2005.

Jeff Masters

Because the night belongs to lovers. (Altred)
Because the night belongs to lovers.

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298. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
A strengthening monsoon trough is located near the north coast and at 9:30 am CST a Tropical Low [998 hPa] was located near 11.3S 131.5E, approximately 30 km west of Cape Don, moving west at 5 km/h. The low is expected to start moving southwards today and move inland over the Top End on Wednesday.

Heavy rain which may lead to flash flooding is likely during today over parts of the northern Darwin-Daly and Arnhem Districts, particularly near the north coast, including the Tiwi Islands and the Cobourg Peninsula. Heavy rain may extend further south into the Darwin-Daly district on Wednesday
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45585
297. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting TomTaylor:
Massive mesoscale convective system off northern Australia in the Timor Sea near Darwin.




Also known as 98S. Click pic for loop.

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All quiet on the eastern front. And with that, I say goodnight.
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Massive mesoscale convective system off northern Australia in the Timor Sea near Darwin.


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anybody here got some toy soldiers
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
293. Skyepony (Mod)
Funso TRMM pass. Click pic for quicktime.. Hot tower there on the last frame.
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Quoting SPLbeater:


im not gonna guess cuz i dont want to

WxgeekVA - 135 knots= 155.25mph. your slick lol

im giving it 139.13043 knots

Go get your calculator lol



160.108 MPH eh? I'll see your 160.108 MPH/139.13043 knots and raise you 135.12537 knots....

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291. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


one of Australia region cyclone potential.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45585
Quoting WxGeekVA:


I think it gets up to 135 knots and falls just short of cat 5 status....


im not gonna guess cuz i dont want to

WxgeekVA - 135 knots= 155.25mph. your slick lol

im giving it 139.13043 knots

Go get your calculator lol
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
SUPER NINO! lol


Don't expect this at least until december 2012, or 2013, but 2013 will likely be a lot less active then the season previous... At last a break you can say, though we don't know what 2012 will throw at us or if it will.

Forecasts: <- that's right FORECASTS
2012:
16 NS
7 HUR
5 Intense HUR

2013: <- what they hey, RIGHT?
9 to 13 Named storms
2 to 6 Hurricanes
No to 2 Major hurricanes

Details on 2012:
The La nina is finished, and we will slowly glide down back into neutral like June 2011, though it will arrive this year about a month earlier.(May 2012, will likely be when the neutral is in full swing) Though unlike 2011, the La nina returns in december, 2012 will differ, and likely give up the La Nina streak from 2010 to now, this will impact greatly to how the heart and end to the hurricane season will play out, if the neutral event collapses early(around the peak of the season) then the US could have some open spots for storms to take shots, before the full el nino pattern takes place. Once the El Nino pattern is in place, whether it be september or november, activity could drop or be about average...
Also this means that 2013 would likely end up being less active, unless there is an event reversal around the mid to end of the year...
Well thats my thoughts toward this.
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Quoting SPLbeater:


lol, i wouldnt take it that far...ok so you gon put the knife to your wrist if the next advisory says 90 knots? LOL, i would hope not! Funso is having fun with light wind shear..How about I scream potatoes if it reached Category 5 status xD


I think it gets up to 135 knots and falls just short of cat 5 status....
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Quoting yqt1001:


The day that this is a category 2 hurricane is the day I die. :P


lol, i wouldnt take it that far...ok so you gon put the knife to your wrist if the next advisory says 90 knots? LOL, i would hope not! Funso is having fun with light wind shear..How about I scream potatoes if it reached Category 5 status xD
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
Quoting SPLbeater:
yqt1001, look at the Adj T# here....good thing is the Final stayed put


The day that this is a category 2 hurricane is the day I die. :P
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1286
yqt1001, look at the Adj T# here....good thing is the Final stayed put
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
Unfortunately, bad news from Mozambique and Malawi:

Cyclone Funso kills 12 in Mozambique

Malawi faces Cyclone Funso as floods displace 450 families

Coupled with the 15 people confirmed dead in the shipwreck a few days earlier this raises the total death toll to at least 27.
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Quoting yqt1001:


Pinhole eye not showing up for the Dvorak analysis?

If you blur out the eye with a bunch of deep convection, it could probably end up with a mid category 1 intensity rating.





it has bounced from 4.0 to 6.1 every 30 minutes. kind of pathetic if you ask me lol. But yes the eye could be why it has bounced so low is that it aint seen at a glance
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
282. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
34th session of the RA IV hurricane committee from April 11 to April 15 in 2012
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45585
So.... what day are they announcing the official retirements of the 2011 storms?
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Good reading on EML's here.

"If the EML did not exist, then the Plains severe storm environment would be entirely different. For one, there would be no dryline. For the EML not to exist, one would have to remove the Rockies and desert southwest. Then of course you wouldn't get a lee trough. So like the dryline, the EML is an integral part of the Plains' severe storm environment. The EML is a basic concept that must be understood and appreciated by forecasters."
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6061
279. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Quoting skycycle:
Wow, very impressive numbers - pressure keeps falling rapidly, now down to 932 - winds have increased to 110kts\125mph with gusts of over 170mph (!!!) and Dvorak is up to 6.5... just how strong can Funso get, can anyone shed some light on the conditions during the next day or two it has to intensify further?


environmental conditions remains favorable for regular further intensification up to 60 hours over high heat content waters. The system should track southeastwards undergoing the steering influence of a building mid-level ridge located on the southeast of Madagascar and track over less warm waters and strengthening westerly wind shear.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45585
Quoting Articuno:

So wait,
God is a flying spaghetteh monster?
:o
I. AM. CONFUSED.

They have internet connections but do not connect.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6061
All Conflict arises from Human Thought..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128644
Quoting skycycle:
Wow, very impressive numbers - pressure keeps falling rapidly, now down to 932 - winds have increased to 110kts\125mph with gusts of over 170mph (!!!) and Dvorak is up to 6.5... just how strong can Funso get, can anyone shed some light on the conditions during the next day or two it has to intensify further?


EWRC will be the main threat over the next day, but the current core that it has is only a day old, and without dry air to induce an EWRC prematurely, we might go over 18 hours until one happens.

CIMSS shows that Funso is heading for a more favourable environment. With minimal shear and dry air.

Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1286
Wow, very impressive numbers - pressure keeps falling rapidly, now down to 932 - winds have increased to 110kts\125mph with gusts of over 170mph (!!!) and Dvorak is up to 6.5... just how strong can Funso get, can anyone shed some light on the conditions during the next day or two it has to intensify further?
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Quoting SPLbeater:
I think there is a problem with the Dvorak Intensity. it is showing a Raw T# of 4.0....and we know that a 115kt cyclone is no where near as low as 4.0.....more like 6.0


Pinhole eye not showing up for the Dvorak analysis?

If you blur out the eye with a bunch of deep convection, it could probably end up with a mid category 1 intensity rating.



Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1286
272. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Quoting SPLbeater:
I think there is a problem with the Dvorak Intensity. it is showing a Raw T# of 4.0....and we know that a 115kt cyclone is no where near as low as 4.0.....more like 6.0


2012JAN24 020000 5.5 942.3/ +1.4 /102.0 5.0 6.0 6.1

CI: 5.5

Final 5.0
Initial 6.0
Raw is 6.1
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45585
Seems like all the Southern Hemisphere activity this season has been in the Southwest Indian...
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269. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Madagascar advisory on 08R


Warning Nr NR25/08 24/01/2012 0100 UTC --
System INTENSE TROPICAL CYCLONE / CYCLONE TROPICAL INTENSE --
Name FUNSO --
Position NEAR 19° 7 S - 39° 3 E 24/01/2012 0000 UTC --
Estimated minimum central Pressure 932 HPA --
Maxi average wind (10 mn) near the centre 110 KT (200 KM/H) --
Gust maxi 150 KT (280 KM/H) --
CI Number (Dvorak scale) CI 6.5-

Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45585
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Quoting presslord:
Yea, but occasionally you score a hit.

My DDD (Dear Departed Dad) always said:  "You throw a rock into a pack of dogs, usually the first one that yelps is the one you hit." 

You yelped first, but I think I hit somewhere else this time.  ;^)~


I never brought up the subject because some forgot the constitution and try to tell me to stop(without ackowledging the ignore button) and I answered a comment by hydrus and CyberTeddy. wasnt your conversation but u jumped in so....
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
Quoting Xyrus2000:


I believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. May he touch thee with his Noodly Appendage and anoint thee with sauce from his Meat Balls. Ramen, my brothers and sisters. Ramen.

This message brought to you by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

So wait,
God is a flying spaghetteh monster?
:o
I. AM. CONFUSED.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2465
I think there is a problem with the Dvorak Intensity. it is showing a Raw T# of 4.0....and we know that a 115kt cyclone is no where near as low as 4.0.....more like 6.0
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
Quoting presslord:


your hair is gonna get all messed up if you keep tilting at those windmills...


Yea, but occasionally you score a hit.

Quoting SPLbeater:


would
also be nice if you knew what Christ was talking about before you loose
your head trying to correct a follower. I am a Christian, i know the
right from wrong in terms of the path to heaven and what isnt. No one
can intimidate that. including, YOU

My DDD (Dear Departed Dad) always said:  "You throw a rock into a pack of dogs, usually the first one that yelps is the one you hit." 

You yelped first, but I think I hit somewhere else this time.  ;^)~
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Impressive storm.





Visible is going to look hot tonight if Funso can maintain himself.
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1286
Quoting AlwaysThinkin:


Also anti-capitalistic. Adam Smith, for instance, felt that if a company set up a trade route then it should be able to make a profit for awhile (to recoup their cost and to make some profit), but eventually be open to the public otherwise it is like enacting a tax on all for the benefit of a few wealthy merchants.


I like that idea, some noticeable flaws, but it's a nice theory.
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1286
Presslord,he's pressed for weather.LOLOL.I'm sorry I just couldn't hold it in I tried so hard.But it was just their.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17078
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

You know because the best track on the storm has been released. :)
Yep
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


Honestly, I believe it is more "illegal" for the government to grant perpetual copyrights than it is for someone to download "Steamboat Willy". Seriously, 99 years plus life of author is just plain stupid.


Also anti-capitalistic. Adam Smith, for instance, felt that if a company set up a trade route then it should be able to make a profit for awhile (to recoup their cost and to make some profit), but eventually be open to the public otherwise it is like enacting a tax on all for the benefit of a few wealthy merchants.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Quoting SPLbeater:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in
heaven.  Mathew 7:21 KJV

Might want to lay off the proof texts for a bit and try to comprehend the Sermon on the Mount.  Much of what you write makes me wonder if you do.

Then shall he answer
them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of
the least of these, ye did it not to me. Mathew 25:31-46



Apologies to the rest of you, but some ignorance is hard to ignore. Promise to come "the season."


would also be nice if you knew what Christ was talking about before you loose your head trying to correct a follower. I am a Christian, i know the right from wrong in terms of the path to heaven and what isnt. No one can intimidate that. including, YOU
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
Quoting Articuno:

I don't have any illegal downloads on my computer to tell the truth.


Honestly, I believe it is more "illegal" for the government to grant perpetual copyrights than it is for someone to download "Steamboat Willy". Seriously, 99 years plus life of author is just plain stupid.
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Quoting allancalderini:
Katia TCR will probably be out at the next few hours or tomorrow how do i know is secret i think she peak at 140

You know because the best track on the storm has been released. :)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32265
Quoting Thrawst:


Funso... could be a Category 5 tomorrow! Bad news for Mozambique.
Cool pic.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21414
Katia TCR will probably be out at the next few hours or tomorrow how do i know is secret i think she peak at 140
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128644


Funso... could be a Category 5 tomorrow! Bad news for Mozambique.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Quoting SPLbeater:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in
heaven.  Mathew 7:21 KJV

Might want to lay off the proof texts for a bit and try to comprehend the Sermon on the Mount.  Much of what you write makes me wonder if you do.

Then shall he answer
them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of
the least of these, ye did it not to me. Mathew 25:31-46



Apologies to the rest of you, but some ignorance is hard to ignore. Promise to come "the season."


your hair is gonna get all messed up if you keep tilting at those windmills...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Guess you folks aren't hip to www.simuawips.com



Wonderful resource for us weather weenies.



I was going to pull it Doug..Crazy busy.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21414
Quoting Neapolitan:

A) Why would I "sweat bullets" if Arctic Sea ice were to magically refreeze? I'd be among the happiest people on earth if the planet somehow decided to stop warming.

B) Ice extent is very low at the moment--lower, in fact, than it was on this date during either of the two least icy years on record, 2007 and 2011:

Uh-oh


Rita doesn't seem to understand arctic ice.

First, it is still much lower than where it should be. All the standard cryosphere sites that I'm aware of indicate this. Ice volume is even more abysmal. The ice is most certainly not recovering.

Second, ice comes back every arctic winter. The problem is, it isn't thick multi-year ice. It's brittle, thin, new ice. This ice makes no difference to volume or extent until it can survive for more than a year. Otherwise it is just part of the normal ice flux in the arctic.

As Nea said, it would be wonderful if the ice was recovering. A lot of climate scientist would, contrary to Rita's belief, be equally happy. But it isn't recovering.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.