Rare January tornado outbreak kills two, injures 100 in Alabama

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

Share this Blog
26
+

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.

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 248 - 198

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7Blog Index

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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Guess you folks aren't hip to www.simuawips.com



Wonderful resource for us weather weenies.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Neapolitan:
Here's some more great news...

Big Tokyo earthquake likely 'within the next few years'

The chance of a big earthquake hitting the Japanese capital in the next few years is much greater than official predictions suggest, researchers say.

The team, from the University of Tokyo, said there was a 75% probability that a magnitude seven quake would strike the region in the next four years.

The government says the chances of such an event are 70% in the next 30 years.

The warning comes less than a year after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's north-eastern coast.

The last time Tokyo was hit by a big earthquake was in 1923, when a 7.9 magnitude quake killed more than 100,000 people, many of them in fires.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo's earthquake research institute based their figures on data from the growing number of tremors in the capital since the 11 March 2011 quake.

They say that compared with normal years, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of quakes in the Tokyo metropolitan area since the March disaster.

They based their calculations on data from Japan's Meteorological Agency, They said their results show that seismic activity had increased in the area around the capital, which in turn leads to a higher probability of a major quake.
SARCASM FLAG ON HIGH.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17842
245. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
kinda of a side question but could Funso actually become one of the strongest cyclones ever in that basin based on the fact that the forecast calls for a cat 5 equivalent?


CYCLONE TROPICAL TRES INTENSE EDZANI (08-20092010)
======================================

905 hPa pressure

10 minute sustained winds of 120 knots with gusts of 170 knots

------

pretty much the last system in that basin with the JTWC 140 knot winds speed.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Here's some more great news...

Big Tokyo earthquake likely 'within the next few years'

The chance of a big earthquake hitting the Japanese capital in the next few years is much greater than official predictions suggest, researchers say.

The team, from the University of Tokyo, said there was a 75% probability that a magnitude seven quake would strike the region in the next four years.

The government says the chances of such an event are 70% in the next 30 years.

The warning comes less than a year after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's north-eastern coast.

The last time Tokyo was hit by a big earthquake was in 1923, when a 7.9 magnitude quake killed more than 100,000 people, many of them in fires.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo's earthquake research institute based their figures on data from the growing number of tremors in the capital since the 11 March 2011 quake.

They say that compared with normal years, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of quakes in the Tokyo metropolitan area since the March disaster.

They based their calculations on data from Japan's Meteorological Agency, They said their results show that seismic activity had increased in the area around the capital, which in turn leads to a higher probability of a major quake.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13805
Where is KOTG??.And here is a link to a weather website you guys might like Link
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17842
Quoting SPLbeater:


woops im sorry you said it last night if you dont like my talk then click the button :D

im answering comments sir!
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."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
241. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #21
CYCLONE TROPICAL INTENSE FUNSO (08-20112012)
4:00 AM RET January 24 2012
=======================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Intense Tropical Cyclone Funso (936 hPa) located at 19.8S 39.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 105 knots with gusts of 140 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving south at 5 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T 6.0/6.0/D1.0/12 HRS

Hurricane Force Winds
=====================
15 NM radius from the center

Storm Force Winds
=================
25 NM radius from the center

Gale Force Winds
=================
50 NM radius from the center, extending up to 110 NM in the eastern semi-circle

Near Gale Force Winds
====================
60 NM radius from the center, extending up to 170 NM in the eastern semi-circle

Forecast and Intensity
=======================

12 HRS: 21.4S 38.7E - 110 knots (Cyclone Tropical Intense)
24 HRS: 22.4S 38.4E - 115 knots (Cyclone Tropical Intense)
48 HRS: 23.6S 38.3E - 105 knots (Cyclone Tropical Intense)
72 HRS: 24.7S 38.7E - 100 knots (Cyclone Tropical Intense)

Additional Information
======================

The system has clearly intensify during the next 12 hours, with an eye better defined, always very small, but cooler, within a colder central dense overcast. The system show always an inner core very small with less than 60 NM diameter (refer to SSMIS 1504z) with a curved band more than an half-turn.

Within the next 48 hours, Funso keeps on undergoing the steering influence of the near-equatorial mid-level highs prolonged by a ridge in the east of the system and is expected to keeps on tracking southwards. Over this track, environmental conditions remains favorable for regular further intensification up to 60 hours over high heat content waters.

At the end of the forecast range, system should track southeastwards undergoing the steering influence of a building mid-level ridge located on the southeast of Madagascar. It is expected to track over less warm waters and to weaken undergoing a strengthening westerly wind shear.

Available numerical weather prediction models are now in good agreement to forecast all the tracks oversea in the middle of the channel.

Inhabitants of the central and southern channel (including Europa island) should closely monitor the progress of this system.

The next tropical cyclone advisory from Seychelles Meteorological Service on TC FUNSO will be issued at 6:30 AM UTC..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Link


Scientists say fears of "Arctic tipping point" may be unfounded.
Article from The BBC.


NOW DOUG.......What are you doing trying to get some on here all messed up....they are already having a hard time in life now your really messing with them....LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting barbamz:
One of the best (and recently improved) aurora cams:
http://www.auroraskystation.com/live-camera/9/
Enjoy and good night from Germany, Barb.
Thank you.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
Cat 1:Not that fun
Cat 2: You look like a fool
Cat 3:May we evacuate please
Cat 4:I'm not staying around to see any more
Cat 5:If you don't leave you won't have no life.
Cat 6:Does that even exist??
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17842



Now that's some hi quality h2o!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like a little cool front this weekend for south Florida...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Any of you guys discovered how useful simuawips is yet?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
FWIW Don't know if this has been mentioned here before. No time to read back.

From the BBC:

Arctic Ocean freshwater bulge detected


Yeah, it was mentioned earlier today. Also, there's this:

Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13805
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Hush.
Huuuush hush.Keep it down,down voices carry....
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17842
Link


Scientists say fears of "Arctic tipping point" may be unfounded.
Article from The BBC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
One of the best (and recently improved) aurora cams:
http://www.auroraskystation.com/live-camera/9/
Enjoy and good night from Germany, Barb.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
kinda of a side question but could Funso actually become one of the strongest cyclones ever in that basin based on the fact that the forecast calls for a cat 5 equivalent?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
FWIW Don't know if this has been mentioned here before. No time to read back.

From the BBC:

Arctic Ocean freshwater bulge detected

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I don't know...This year has already started off worse than 2011. We're slightly ahead in the number of tornadoes now compared to last year.

But if you really think about it EF 5's are really rare.Even ef 4's.But then again the sst in the gulf have not really cooled off and could fuel storms through the rest of this winter and sring.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17842
Quoting j2008:

Lets hope we dont have a combo this year or a Cane season like the Epac was last year where 80-90% of the storms were canes.
Some years we have combo's of both(2008 for an exsample).I'm not sure how this hurricane season is going to turn out.I just hope it's not like 09 again.That was the dead season as I call it.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17842
Quoting Patrap:
From Lowercal's blog

live aurora cam: Kiruna, Sweden,
Very cool link Pat .
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
Quoting washingtonian115:
I don't think we'll see a year like 2011 for along long time(probally not again in my life time ).The 2011 tornado season was like the 2005 atlantic hurricane season.

I don't know...This year has already started off worse than 2011. We're slightly ahead in the number of tornadoes now compared to last year.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32864
224. j2008
Quoting washingtonian115:
I don't think we'll see a year like 2011 for along long time(probally not again in my life time ).The 2011 tornado season was like the 2005 atlantic hurricane season.

Lets hope we dont have a combo this year or a Cane season like the Epac was last year where 80-90% of the storms were canes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
List of all F5 and EF5 tornadoes since 2007. Note that before 2011, it had been 3 years since a tornado that strong. Then look at the string 2011 had...

I don't think we'll see a year like 2011 for along long time(probally not again in my life time ).The 2011 tornado season was like the 2005 atlantic hurricane season.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17842
222. j2008
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
List of all F5 and EF5 tornadoes since 2007. Note that before 2011, it had been 3 years since a tornado that strong. Then look at the string 2011 had...

Truely strange...... sad to see things are starting off bad this year..... hopeing none of these tornadoes were EF 5, that would just be strange. Hey I just noticed this is my first post of the year if I remember right.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Anybody know what could keep an elevated mixed layer from coming over SE Texas? It seems to be a semi-permanent feature.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6158
Here in Huntsville, AL it is not rare to have these tornadoes come through in January. It is rare that they kill people this time of year, but we have a lot more people than we did in 1950.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey, he started it! (Did not/too.)
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6158
List of all F5 and EF5 tornadoes since 2007. Note that before 2011, it had been 3 years since a tornado that strong. Then look at the string 2011 had...

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32864
Quoting nymore:
I thought God is in the T.V.
No. He,s in my wallet..hhhaaaaaa.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
Watch the CME Photons strike the spacecrafts detectors soon after..


sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov

Awesome..

One would have been a solar Ham fer sure..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129904
Quoting nymore:
Marilyn Manson LMFAO


-.- xD
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting presslord:


as a Catholic...I sure hope so ;-)
LOL..There s always Pelagianism.. Hope you are well Press....Next rain maker in 84 hours..Da NAM model..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

ohhhh no, don't copy what I said. :P

You're a good blogger, I just don't like it when y'all talk about religion because it always leads to arguments. And arguments lead to banning.


yea ur rite there. I can tolerate this stuff on my blog if nybody feels the need to continue with it.
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
WE NOW RESUME WEATHER WITH THIS UNHELPFUL ASCAT OF FUNSO lol
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting SPLbeater:


? where n the world did u hear dat?
Marilyn Manson LMFAO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

ohhhh no, don't copy what I said. :P


lol
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting nymore:
I thought God is in the T.V.


? where n the world did u hear dat?
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting SPLbeater:


woops im sorry you said it last night if you dont like my talk then click the button :D

im answering comments sir!

ohhhh no, don't copy what I said. :P

You're a good blogger, I just don't like it when y'all talk about religion because it always leads to arguments. And arguments lead to banning.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32864
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Hush.


woops im sorry you said it last night if you dont like my talk then click the button :D

im answering comments sir!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting SPLbeater:


accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, asking him to come into your heart and cleanse it from all your sins. your name is then written in the Lambs Book of Life and you will be able to go to heaven when you die, or when the rapture comes.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I thought God is in the T.V.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUgh.Are we actually talking about religion again???.Let people accept what they accept.


im sorry i am only defending the true ways to git to heaven. my apologies. RELIGIOUS TALK TO MY BLOG OR WRITE ONE TO DEBATE...since it isnt free here lol

St. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto them, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. no man cometh unto the father but by me."
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting AlwaysThinkin:


Funso-ver for him.


lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The storm is weakening, has probably lost Category 4 status by now.


Funso-ver for him.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SPLbeater:


accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, asking him to come into your heart and cleanse it from all your sins. your name is then written in the Lambs Book of Life and you will be able to go to heaven when you die, or when the rapture comes.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hush.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32864
Quoting washingtonian115:
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUgh.Are we actually talking about religion again???.Let people accept what they accept.
I apologize...I quit...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
Quoting hydrus:
So you just accept Jesus, and your flung into heaven...Is that it.?


accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, asking him to come into your heart and cleanse it from all your sins. your name is then written in the Lambs Book of Life and you will be able to go to heaven when you die, or when the rapture comes.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Speaking of religion, was it okay that I wrote on my voters registration for Religion as ''the force''?
You are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States to practice and embrace the religion of your choice... The Force being protected as well.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUgh.Are we actually talking about religion again???.Let people accept what they accept.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17842

Viewing: 248 - 198

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
47 °F
Overcast

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron