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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The Birmingham, AL has been rated an EF3 per Justin Kenney, NOAA director of communications and external affairs.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31502
Quoting RitaEvac:
I remember when I was 10 in 1990 Hurricane Diana, watching John Hope and watching visible satellite when it hit 90mph during those summer days off and out swimming and for whatever reason I wanted that storm to come my way and tried eating this delicious cheesecake hoping that would make the storm come my way I remember when it was closer to the Yucatan compared to this image.



I have a clipping I saved out of the newspaper on that storm..Diana did serious damage with its second landfall, and the name retired....Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20514
I'm sure Nea is sweating bullets over the ice map, of so much ice out there. Latest ice maps for viewers out there

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Quoting yqt1001:
Latest JTWC update has Funso reaching 140kts! Current winds are at 115kts. Still not expected to hit land. :D


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_Island

small island lands though =P
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44779


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Funso is now a category 4 and is predicted to reach Category 5 intensity by Wednesday! Amazing!
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Latest JTWC update has Funso reaching 140kts! Current winds are at 115kts. Still not expected to hit land. :D
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1285
Quoting SPLbeater:
Dvorak Intensity on Funso has raised to 84 knots. in 90 minutes a 12 knot change


Err...what? Funso doesn't look like a category 2 hurricane to me. In fact, JTWC says its 115kts.
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1285
Funso is an extremely intense tropical cyclone. Very rare to see a storm this strong in the Mozambique Channel.
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Quoting ChillinInTheKeys:


Nah... you're just upset he wouldn't give up his seat to Alex Van Halen.

..?
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2293
Dvorak Intensity on Funso has raised to 84 knots. in 90 minutes a 12 knot change
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Here's a picture of the same tornado that demolished parts of Oak Grove and the Northern Birmingham metro.
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I remember when I was 10 in 1990 Hurricane Diana, watching John Hope and watching visible satellite when it hit 90mph during those summer days off and out swimming and for whatever reason I wanted that storm to come my way and tried eating this delicious cheesecake hoping that would make the storm come my way I remember when it was closer to the Yucatan compared to this image.



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Quoting ILwthrfan:


Back in the early 90's I lived off that channel. John Hope was the man!! Jim when he was a young'n....those were the days. I stayed up all the way through the Andrew debacle when they were covering it. I was only 10. lol Who needs cartoons at that age when you had the weather channel....;)


Those were the good days as a kid, even had certain songs I liked hearing (local on the 8s now)
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Quoting hydrus:
They were ruined because they were bought.


Back in the early 90's I lived off that channel. John Hope was the man!! Jim when he was a young'n....those were the days. I stayed up all the way through the Andrew debacle when they were covering it. I was only 10. lol Who needs cartoons at that age when you had the weather channel....;)
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Quoting hydrus:
Are you saying that the west will get some rain?


Believe so, from the I-35 corridor in Central TX and eastward
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Quoting Articuno:

Wake up with Al ruined TWC.
They became crappy after that!


Nah... you're just upset he wouldn't give up his seat to Alex Van Halen.
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Quoting Articuno:

Wake up with Al ruined TWC.
They became crappy after that!
They were ruined because they were bought.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20514
Quoting RitaEvac:


Not this time
Are you saying that the west will get some rain?
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20514
Quoting hydrus:
Y,all are suppose to get more rain and a lot of it in some areas..The west will get jipped again.


Not this time
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Yesterdays sand/dust storm over West TX has eavesdropped on us in SE TX. Redish/Brown dust on the cars in the parking lot. Sky is hazy too, should wash off the cars tomm and Wed.
Y,all are suppose to get more rain and a lot of it in some areas..The west will get jipped again.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20514
Finally! Settled!!! Hope George Noory has this on his show tonight:Link
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Damn Funso, you so pretty.



Dvorak says category 4, but if it keeps this convection, category 5 is totally realistic.

Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1285
Quoting ILwthrfan:


Maybe, but Stephanie Abrams sure didn't ruin anything...:D

LOL.
:)
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2293
Funso is now the equivalent of a major hurricane on our Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, and is displaying a beautiful pinhole eye. This is not common guys, so admire it while you can.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31502
Have you ever taken a close look at stephanie Abrams body.
For a young gal she ain't much to look at.
Has a belly, large legs and a tuckis that won't quit,

I know I have been looking at fine women for years!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Frankly, they're excellent for severe weather outbreaks. You should have seen them during the April 27, 2011 Super Outbreak.
I remembered turning it on just before tornado hit Birmingham area on April 27. You could see a HUGE mile long tornado in the background of Birmingham's skyline. Scariest LIVE TV event I've ever seen.
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Whats the odds that Funso makes landfall in Mozambique? Looks like it may get close ...
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


Maybe, but Stephanie Abrams sure didn't ruin anything...:D

LOL.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31502
Funso isn't looking so fun to be under right now.
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Quoting Articuno:

Wake up with Al ruined TWC.
They became crappy after that!


Maybe, but Stephanie Abrams sure didn't ruin anything...:D
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Madagascar advisory....

Warning Nr NR24/08 23/01/2012 1900 UTC
System: CYCLONE TROPICAL INTENSE

Estimated minimum central Pressure 940 HPA
Maxi average wind (10 mn) 100 KT (185 KM/H)
Gust maxi 140 KT (260 KM/H)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44779
Quoting washingtonian115:
I havn't watched TWC in like ages.I forgot the last time I did.They suck now.They've turned into a weather/news(mind you the news has nothing to do with weather half the time,like the running for campaign of president).Once I saw that on there a few months ago I knew TWC had failed........

Wake up with Al ruined TWC.
They became crappy after that!
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2293
Cyclone Funso 183000Z 1/23/12

CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.3 / 971.0mb/ 72.2kt

Raw T# 6.5
Adj T# 4.9
Final T# 4.5
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Quoting washingtonian115:
I havn't watched TWC in like ages.I forgot the last time I did.They suck now.They've turned into a weather/news(mind you the news has nothing to do with weather half the time,like the running for campaign of president).Once I saw that on there a few months ago I knew TWC had failed........


COuldnt agree more!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Quoting washingtonian115:
I havn't watched TWC in like ages.I forgot the last time I did.They suck now.They've turned into a weather/news(mind you the news has nothing to do with weather half the time,like the running for campaign of president).Once I saw that on there a few months ago I knew TWC had failed........

Frankly, they're excellent for severe weather outbreaks. You should have seen them during the April 27, 2011 Super Outbreak.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31502
And here is Cyclone Funso

Look good
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Quoting ColoradoBob1:

Amateur operators report soft-ball sized hail 4 miles south of
England, Ark. Additionally, 2.75 inch (baseball-sized) hail was spotted
in Griffith Spring, Ark. by local law enforcement. Golf ball-sized to
baseball-sized hail was reported in Newport and Brinkley, Ark.

Golf ball-sized to baseball-sized hail reported in Newport and Brinkley, Ark.Accu report

my god, those poor people there, imagine what happen to cars left outside, let alone what happened to people crazy enough to be walking around outside
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I havn't watched TWC in like ages.I forgot the last time I did.They suck now.They've turned into a weather/news(mind you the news has nothing to do with weather half the time,like the running for campaign of president).Once I saw that on there a few months ago I knew TWC had failed........
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16421
Potent 97S


Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481

Amateur operators report soft-ball sized hail 4 miles south of
England, Ark. Additionally, 2.75 inch (baseball-sized) hail was spotted
in Griffith Spring, Ark. by local law enforcement. Golf ball-sized to
baseball-sized hail was reported in Newport and Brinkley, Ark.

Golf ball-sized to baseball-sized hail reported in Newport and Brinkley, Ark.Accu report

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Yep Patrap we are bound to (fix or break) something, it's a matter of semantics, that won't be so easily remedied.I think back to what an uneducated truck driver once told a fellow employee. No matter how smart you maybe there is enough you don't know about to make a whole universe out of. Still loving the weather underground. Keep up the good work my fellow weather nerds. Exception for Pat I don't know if we can call ex-jar head a nerd. Clarification needed.
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Quoting MTWX:

wunderground does too. Over mine through here. There are also apps you can download, that even include the tornado siren feature that definitely loud enough to wake you at night.


Would take anything but Inaccuweather and TWC
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Quoting bappit:
Not all religion is theistic.

Merriam-sez, theism:

"belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world"

Wikipedia, "Nontheistic religions":

"Nontheistic religions are traditions of thought within religions, some otherwise aligned with theism, others not, in which nontheism informs religious beliefs or practices.[1] Nontheism has been applied to the fields of Christian apologetics and general liberal theology, and plays significant roles in Buddhism and Hinduism."
lmao...thanx for helpin out on that one Bap....Jesus...lol
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20514
Yesterday in Texas -
Notice how dead everything appears :

Aqua/MODIS

2012/022

01/22/2012

20:00 UTC
Dust storm in northern Texas

http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/imager y/single.cgi?image=Texas.A2012022.2000.1km.jpg
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Ok can somebody tell me what will happen with blocking in place at the current moment over 180W?
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
759 am CST Monday Jan 23 2012


Short term...

quasi-linear convective system /qlcs/ squall line feature sharpening somewhat as it was moving into the western portions of the forecast area. The line has been sub-severe limited by capping in the middle levels to inhibit updrafts though warm rain process and isolated lightning to be expected early this morning.
Winds are unidirectional southwest from surface through about 20kft with low speed shear. This frontal squall should continue to move east around 15 kts and be east of the forecast area by early afternoon.
Have indicated a stratification of rain chances from west to east for today. Other issue is warmer than previously indicated temperatures Post-frontal as Pacific air mass not holding much cold air advection...as indicated by upstream temperatures in Texas and Arkansas this morning.

Did raise maximum temperatures for today
closer to 70 as morning lows have held up overnight in areas where front already passed. For the remainder of the forecast area have indicated middle to upper 70s with some compressional heating pre- frontal baselined from unseasonably very warm overnight lows.

Rain and cloudiness to diminish throughout the afternoon with fair and mild conditions for tonight. Front does not get too far south before stalling and returning north as a warm front late Tuesday.
Warm frontogenesis over-running rain pattern likely to become established over the area with stratiform rain interspersed with elevated convection by late Tuesday into Tuesday night.


Long term...

Wednesday is expected to be quite warm with strong warm air advection pattern in place ahead of low latitude low pressure system moving out of Rio Grande Valley area. It still appears this system will come into the region with a negative tilt to provide a
heavy rain and potentially severe risk Wednesday night into early Thursday. After that last short-wave passes...a relatively long stretch of quieter days should evolve as flow becomes slightly cyclonic to nearly zonal aloft heading into the latter part of the
month.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
From suburban Chicago here - a thunderstorm with 4" of snow on the ground was really quite odd. Lightning was much brighter since it was reflecting off of everything.

Thankfully winds weren't that bad, as there was a lot of snow still on trees.
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Clouds building down in S TX, front stalling out, return flow coming tonight, fuel is already beginning to form itself for the EVENT over TX, Incoming Low diving down over California, it's beginning.
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From Little Rock NWS, preliminary paths of last evening's tornadoes, including one obvious long-tracker:

It's a twister!
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Quoting DavidHOUTX:


I hear that! I got a little over 5" at my house. That heavy band set up right over the southern side of the city (right along 610). I would love it if we had that happen again


Supposed to....somewhere.
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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.

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