First tornado death of 2013 ends record 219-day streak without a tornado death

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:50 PM GMT on January 30, 2013

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A powerful tornado ripped through Adairsville, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta, at 11:19 am EST this morning, killing at least one person in a mobile home park. The tornado caused major structural damage in the downtown district, and overturned approximately 100 cars on I-75 near Exit 306 (see eyewitness video here, with swear words.) Eight injuries, some serious, are also being reported from a tornado just southeast of Calhoun, GA around 11:30am EST. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed most of the Southeast in their "Slight Risk" region for severe weather for Wednesday, a step down from the "Moderate Risk" potential issued on Tuesday for the Midwest. Three other tornadoes have hit Georgia today, and there were 79 reports of wind damage due to high winds as of 2 pm EST along the cold front that triggered today's severe weather, from Alabama to Pennsylvania. Tornado watches continue for a wide swath of the Southeast this afternoon, from Alabama to North Carolina.


Figure 1. Car overturned by the tornado near Adairsville, Georgia, on January 30, 2013. Image courtesy of WSB-TV on http://pic.twitter.com/2lAL0Lmc.



Figure 2. Radar reflectivity (top) and Doppler velocity (bottom) images of the tornado that hit Adairsville, Georgia at 11:19 am EST Wednesday, January 30, 2013. Adairsville is under the circle with a "+" in it.


Figure 3. A wild weather day in the Southeast: NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged four preliminary reports of tornadoes as of 2 pm Wednesday, along with 79 reports of damaging winds.


Video 1. View of the Adairsville, Georgia tornado of January 30, 2013. Note the blue power flashes as the tornado brings down power lines.

Record string of 219 days without a tornado death ends
Today's fatality ends the longest continuous stretch without a tornado death ever recorded in the U.S.--219 days. The last time the U.S. saw a tornado death was at Venus in Highlands County, Florida, from an EF-0 tornado associated with Tropical Storm Debby on June 24, 2012. The previous record was 197 straight days without a tornado death, which ended on February 28, 1987. Part of the reason for the long stretch without a tornado death during 2012 - 2013 was the relative lack of tornadoes. According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC), the total number of tornadoes during 2012 was just 936. This is the first time since 2002 that fewer than 1000 tornadoes have been recorded. The jet stream was positioned unusually far north in Canada during much of 2012, which brought drought to much of Tornado Alley. It's tough to get tornadoes when you're experiencing near-record drought conditions and very few thunderstorms. Saskatchewan, Canada saw as many tornadoes in July 2012 as all of the U.S., thanks to the more northward position of the jet stream.


Figure 4. June 24, 2012: A tornado spawned by Tropical Storm Debbie crosses Lake Winterset in Winter Haven, Florida. Another tornado from Debbie on this day caused the last tornado death in the U.S., at Venus in Highlands County, Florida. Image credit: wunderphotographer whgator3.

Record moisture and rains
Today's severe weather outbreak was helped by record levels of January moisture, as a flow of unusually moist air rode northwards from the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures were about 0.5°F above average. Meteorologists use a term called "precipitable water" to discuss how much water vapor is in the atmosphere. Precipitable water is defined as how much rain would fall on the ground if one took a vertical slice of the atmosphere above a given location and condensed all the water vapor into rain. Precipitable water levels tend to be highest in the summer, since warm air holds more waver vapor, and can exceed two inches in the Midwest U.S. In winter, though, it is rare to see precipitable water values higher than one inch. However, precipitable water was well over an inch well into Canada, and three upper air stations--Detroit, MI, Lincoln IL, and Caribou, Maine--set all-time records for January moisture, and four other stations had their 2nd highest January moisture on record. From the 00Z January 30 to 00Z January 31 upper air balloon soundings taken at the 73 radiosonde stations in the contiguous U.S., we observed these record or near-record precipitable water values for January:

Detroit, MI: New Record: 1.21" Old record: 1.20" 1/11/75
Lincoln, IL: New record: 1.46" Old Record: 1.35" 1/12/60
Caribou, Maine: New Record: 1.21" (Ties old record of 1.21" 1/14/2005)
Alpena, MI: 2nd place, 0.99". First place: 1.01", 1/5/97
Buffalo, NY: 2nd place, 1.21". First place: 1.34", 1/15/95
Wilmington, OH: 2nd place, 1.44" First place: 1.51", 1/12/2005
Gray, ME: 2nd place, 1.36" First place: 1.38" 1/20/96

Green Bay (4th), Albany, NY (4th), Sterling, VA (4th), Shreveport (6th), Little Rock (3rd), Nashville, TN (10th), Chatham, MA (10th), and Maniwawi, Quebec (4th) all had top-ten January precipitable water values. Radiosonde data goes back to 1948.

The exceptional moisture led to record rains in many regions of the Midwest, with numerous locations setting daily precipitation records. Two airports recorded their wettest January day on record, including Madison, WI (1.84", previous record 1.80" on January 1, 1892) and Houghton Lake, MI (1.21", old record 1.08" on in 1938.) Top-five wettest January days in recorded history were also set at Muskegon, MI (2.48"), Marquette, MI (1.21"), and South Bend, IN (1.94".) Here where I live, in Southeast Michigan, being outside yesterday was like walking through a surreal white soup. Rains like nothing I've ever seen in January fitfully poured from the sky throughout the day, ponding up on the frozen ground. Eerie white fog swirled over the sodden snow drifts as thunder rumbled overhead in temperatures 25°F above average. What planet was this? The heavy rains of 1.60" that fell in 26 hours at the nearby Flint airport made this month our wettest January in recorded history, with 3.66" of precipitation.

Jeff Masters

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387. wxmod
Georgia coast silt. MODIS today

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385. wxmod
China pollution machine. MODIS satellite photo today



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Good Afternoon everyone...

gusty winds here in NYC still but not as strong as early this morning with the heavy rains and thunder...

There are some trees down, and power lines in some places. Some reports of power outages across my area..

The damage from this storm was worse than I expected..
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
Some pretty insane winds at Mt. Washington right now!

Link
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

Strong winds along E. coast w/cold front tied to "bombing" low, 970 to 959 mb from 12z-18z, GFS then takes to 940 mb http://twitter.com/RyanMaue/status/297019609142419 457/photo/1
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

Late Sunday, GFS rapidly develops a Clipper system into a strong Nor'Easter, 1001 mb to 967 mb in 18-hours http://twitter.com/RyanMaue/status/297020181421645 824/photo/1
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
Quoting Slamguitar:
Too bad that little warm up the other day melted almost half the ice on the Great Lakes. Hopefully it will rebound with sub-freezing temps forecast to stick around for a while. These lakes are getting low.



Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
Too bad that little warm up the other day melted almost half the ice on the Great Lakes. Hopefully it will rebound with sub-freezing temps forecast to stick around for a while. These lakes are getting low.

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Quoting lilElla:


Looks like next week will be one clipper after the other hitting S. WI. Hope you faired through all of the severe weather in your area?!
We did well. We still have tree damage from past storms. Thankfully our area was spared other than some trees down a few miles north.
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TC Felleng-Current Modis Image..



Navy/NRL Latest Image of Felleng

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A long way out, but it would be an interesting event for February..
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Good Afternoon. As noted by Dr. M in a Yale video he posted, drought is going a be a major issue facing parts of the US (come Spring and Summer) if the next fronts between now and then don't generate some more rain. The frontal passage across parts of North Florida last evening basically brought a steady-heavy downpour for 10 minutes then it was like tuning off a faucet...................Not good if the GFS is not showing us any potential rainmakers in the short-term on the horizon. But, finally nice to see some cooler temps (actually will feel like winter) in the wake of the front for the South-SE Conus.
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Quoting hydrus:


Looks like next week will be one clipper after the other hitting S. WI. Hope you faired through all of the severe weather in your area?!
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The Adairsville tornado has been given a preliminary rating of a high-end EF3.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30259
Here is a nice example of some types of walls and protection given. Wood right through, Concrete Block as constructed in pictures from Adairsville, busted all to hell, concrete reinforced stops it. Skip ahead in video to watch tests.

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Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2210
I know I'm looking quite far ahead, but if the mid/long range models are to be believed, the low located just west of the dateline could end up being the next big player for weather across the lower 48. It's still a week or so from impacting anyone even on the west coast, but it's one to keep an eye on down the road.

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Quoting MontanaZephyr:
Pushing 40 degrees this morning in Helena Montana... and it feels closer to 50!

I know, the greenhouse isn't good for everyone, but I am SO in love with it!~ It COULD be 40 below right now; or it could've been, at one time.


It still can be, given the right circumstances. It is just that the right circumstances are not currently present.

If you ever want a better perspective, just do a search around the rest of the planet at your same latitude and see what is happening there.
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Quoting hydrus:


Good to see you on here. Didn't see you post yesterday and was concerned.
Someone said you were on here then stopped posting. Did you have any outages there?
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4926
I have an earthquake app on my Iphone and get alerts whenever there is a 6.0 or higher anywhere in the world, and it has been going bonkers. World is heating up in the tectonic world
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Quoting PedleyCA:


Aftershock??


Not sure Pedley..
Could be..
I usually check the website once a day and noticed the info I posted..
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Dr. Forbes is out with the Peachtree City NWS surveying the damage from the Adairsville tornado. Looks like it was at least (emphasis on at least) an EF3.
Well built houses were completely destroyed down to the foundation, such as this one.

It may well be an EF3. But what makes you think that was a well constructed building, the CMU's (concrete masonry units or as you may call them 8 inch blocks) are not strong to horizontal forces. I see no rebar in the cores and no core fill, also no bond beam in the structure. It gives people a false sense of security because something is made out of CMU's. If it is not properly constructed it is junk. I see nothing holding it together except for head and bed joints.
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2210
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I believe Tuesday was the Moderate Risk day, Wednesday was just Slight.

Quoting Tazmanian:



not bad for a sight risk
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Quoting pcola57:





Mag. 6.0 near Craig,Alaska

Event Time

2013-01-31 09:53:43 UTC
2013-01-31 00:53:43 UTC-09:00 at epicenter
2013-01-31 03:53:43 UTC-06:00 system time

Location

55.584°N 134.745°W depth=9.7km (6.0mi)
Nearby Cities

101km (63mi) W of Craig, Alaska
303km (188mi) S of Juneau, Alaska
316km (196mi) WNW of Prince Rupert, Canada
409km (254mi) WNW of Terrace, Canada
571km (355mi) S of Whitehorse, Canada


Aftershock??
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4926
Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Twenty-three now Tuesday's tor report number. Some due to NWS wind damage survey upgrades. Clickable graphics link to SPC storm reports text.





not bad for a sight risk
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Quoting LargoFl:
7-day for Tampa bay..cold doesnt last long here...


Those look more like my temps than Florida temps....... lol
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Quoting pcola57:


NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 4372 and the Dark Doodad
Image Credit & Copyright: Ivan Eder

Explanation: The delightful Dark Doodad Nebula drifts through southern skies, a tantalizing target for binoculars in the constellation Musca, The Fly. The dusty cosmic cloud is seen against rich starfields just south of the prominent Coalsack Nebula and the Southern Cross. Stretching for about 3 degrees across this scene the Dark Doodad seems punctuated at its southern tip (lower left) by globular star cluster NGC 4372. Of course NGC 4372 roams the halo of our Milky Way Galaxy, a background object some 20,000 light-years away and only by chance along our line-of-sight to the Dark Doodad. The Dark Doodad's well defined silhouette belongs to the Musca molecular cloud, but its better known alliterative moniker was first coined by astro-imager and writer Dennis di Cicco in 1986 while observing comet Halley from the Australian outback. The Dark Doodad is around 700 light-years distant and over 30 light-years long.


Beautiful image pcola. Thanks for posting it
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Mag. 6.0 near Craig,Alaska

Event Time

2013-01-31 09:53:43 UTC
2013-01-31 00:53:43 UTC-09:00 at epicenter
2013-01-31 03:53:43 UTC-06:00 system time

Location

55.584°N 134.745°W depth=9.7km (6.0mi)
Nearby Cities

101km (63mi) W of Craig, Alaska
303km (188mi) S of Juneau, Alaska
316km (196mi) WNW of Prince Rupert, Canada
409km (254mi) WNW of Terrace, Canada
571km (355mi) S of Whitehorse, Canada
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Dr. Forbes is out with the Peachtree City NWS surveying the damage from the Adairsville tornado. Looks like it was at least (emphasis on at least) an EF3.
Well built houses were completely destroyed down to the foundation, such as this one.

Would make a neat documentary on a NWS tornado survey if TWC could film the process and make TV story on it.
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Quoting stormchaser43:
Morning, VR46L! Morning, everyone!

Well, we had some very beneficial rainfall over the Heartland over the last couple days. That was nice. But now as I'm dialing up the next five days on the GFS, I see absolutely nothing. Damn I sure hope it's not another month and a half with nothing...

I am so damn sick of this sh**.

One of the local TV Mets put up a post that it has been 418 days since a a rainfall that heavy had occurred over the area. Wetlands are already drying out again. At least there may be hope 7-10 days out for a repeat.
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Pushing 40 degrees this morning in Helena Montana... and it feels closer to 50!

I know, the greenhouse isn't good for everyone, but I am SO in love with it!~ It COULD be 40 below right now; or it could've been, at one time.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Live from Breckenridge! 3 inches yesterday and 7 inches overnight! A little warmer this morning than the last two days..
16F and light snow ATM.


Thanks for keeping us informed Doug..
Wow,a total of 10 more inches since yesterday..
Gotta be looking good at the slopes..
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Dr. Forbes is out with the Peachtree City NWS surveying the damage from the Adairsville tornado. Looks like it was at least (emphasis on at least) an EF3.
Well built houses were completely destroyed down to the foundation, such as this one.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30259


Good Morning All - These are Florida numbers..... lol
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4926
Live from Breckenridge! 3 inches yesterday and 7 inches overnight! A little warmer this morning than the last two days..
16F and light snow ATM.
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337. VR46L
Good Morning chaser !!

Hope you get the weather you want !

I see a break in the Bad weather for me in a few days !

Hallelujah!!
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About JeffMasters

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