The most impressive U.S. December snowstorm in two years is powering across the eastern third of the country today, bringing blizzard conditions to Indiana and Ohio and severe thunderstorms to eastern North Carolina. The 28 preliminary tornadoes that touched down yesterday will likely put December 25, 2012 in first place for largest Christmas tornado outbreak in U.S. history. Fortunately, the tornadoes are not being blamed for any deaths, though strong thunderstorm winds have killed two people due to falling trees. Dozens of people have been injured due to the severe weather--25 in Mississippi alone. The parent storm has dumped more than 8 inches of snow in six states--Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. According to the latest NWS Storm Summary
, the greatest snowfall so far has been at Morrilton, Arkansas, where 13.5" has fallen. Tornado watches are posted today in Eastern North Carolina, where NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has indicated a "Slight Risk" of severe weather exists. This is one level of alert below the "Moderate Risk" of severe weather that existed on Christmas Day for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. As of 2 pm EST on December 26, no tornadoes had been reported for the day, though several tornado warnings had been issued for North Carolina.Figure 1.
Winter Storm Euclid at 1:25 pm EST Wednesday, December 26, 2012. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.Figure 2.
Preliminary storm reports from Christmas Day, 2012, from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center
show as many as 28 tornado reports.History of Christmas-time tornado outbreaks
Serious tornado outbreaks in the winter are uncommon, particularly so during Christmas. According to the Tornado History Project
there have been eight Christmases since 1950 with tornadoes. The most recent Christmas with tornadoes was in 2006, when six twisters touched down in Florida and Georgia. The most tornadoes ever recorded on Christmas Day was twelve, back in 1969. With 28 preliminary tornadoes
reported yesterday, it appears very likely that December 25, 2012 will rank in first place for most tornadoes ever recorded on Christmas Day. It is possible that the tornado that hit Maxie, MS yesterday will be rated an EF-3, tying it for strongest Christmas tornado on record. The strongest Christmas tornadoes on record were F-3s that occurred in 1964 and 1969. Video 1.
A tornado is caught on video from the top of a Holiday Inn crossing through Mobile, Alabama on December 25, 2012. Preliminary NWS damage surveys have rated this at least an EF-1 tornado. Here
is another YouTube video of the Mobile tornado.
Wunderground meteorologists Angela Fritz
and Shaun Tanner
are also blogging on this impressive storm, and have more info on the history of Christmas-time tornado outbreaks.