Alabama Tornado Past

28 02 2013

Tornado season is upon us as we enter March.  March, April, and May are the three months with the highest number of tornadoes per year and, also, the months that are considered as the Meteorological Spring.  The question on every bodies mind is what kind of tornado season are we expecting this year?  That is yet to be determined, but what we can tell you and show you is what has happened in Alabama’s tornado history up to this point.

We have done some digging around and was able to create this interesting image.



This is the number of tornadoes for the counties with the most viewers we have.  These numbers are a cumulative amount of tornadoes since the early 1800’s.  Fascinating to see that since the early 1800’s that Mobile and Baldwin counties have had almost 100 tornadoes compared to the other counties which have had far less than that.  I can already tell what your thinking, why so much more in Mobile and Baldwin counties compared to the other counties?  The best way to answer this question is to look at the highest rated tornado recorded which is in parenthesis.  Notice that Mobile, Baldwin, and Escambia (AL) counties have nothing higher than an F3 in recorded history.  Mobile and Baldwin counties are unique as they are next to very warm water which can make conditions unstable fairly quickly when cold air swoops down.  Majority of the tornadoes in these two counties are either F0 or F1 and are very short lived.  Another interesting thing to point out is to show how the intensity of tornadoes increases as you go further north.  A lot of that has to deal with the famous Dixie Alley and the perfect conditions that can be set up for stronger tornadoes.  There is one unique county and that is Harris Co., GA.  According to an article that was found, an F5 tornado was classified during a tornado outbreak in 1875.  It first started out as an F4 in Lee County, AL and moved into Harris County and intensified.

Other than what has been said, all this map really tells us is that within the past 200 years nothing strong than an F3 has hit the Southwest Alabama area and a variety of intensities hit Central Alabama into extreme West Central Georgia.

Moving forward closer to present time.  Last year was one of the most inactive tornado years in recorded history.  This map shows the number of tornadoes that affected our entire viewing area with the intensity.


There were 19 tornadoes that occurred within our viewing area with most of those being EF1 and the strongest being an EF2.  Throughout the state there were 55.  Two of the most memorable tornadoes were the ones that hit Mobile.  One of the counties we watch over, Lowndes County, had 4 tornadoes last year ranging from an EF0 to an EF2.

So what does all of this mean for this years tornado season?  Not much can be determined just by looking at all this, but what can be said is that Mobile and Baldwin counties are more likely to see tornadoes, but fairly weak ones.  As for the rest of the counties, they are more likely to see stronger tornadoes, but not as many tornadoes will likely occur.

Severe Weather Threat Tonight

25 02 2013

Looking at the latest data coming in, the atmosphere is starting to destabilize as the warm front moves on shore. The atmosphere is already unstable in LA & SW Mississippi and that will be moving into our area later on tonight.

SEVERE RISK: The main threats will be watching for are Damaging winds, Large Hail, & Heavy Rain / Flooding. The tornado risk is smaller than the others risk but is still valid.

SVR Threat

In fact, the SPC has placed areas south of US Hwy 84 including Mobile and the Florida panhandle under the greatest risk for tornadoes as we go into this evening and into overnight. The risk gets smaller to none as you move north of US 84 so Central Alabama won’t have to worry about any type severe weather aside from flooding.


TIMING: We will be looking for two rounds of weather moving through. We will first look for individual cells to form out in advance of the cold front later this evening. This is where the greatest risk of tornadoes would come from for our area tonight. The second round will move though tonight as the squall line associated with the cold front moves though.

Well be here all day and night keeping you updated on the latest watches and warnings. You can also get alerts sent to your phone through the MyWarn app and out Twitter feed by clicking here.

-Patrick Bigbie, StormTEAM 4 / Gamma 9 Weather Chief Meteorologist

2012 Precipitation

3 02 2013

Now that we have seen another year, have you ever wondered how much rain we got last year?  We did!  So we went through and gathered 96 points in our entire viewing area that reported precipitation most of the year and since we added some counties recently we haven’t even added them yet.  This is just a rough draft of what we had before adding the new counties.  Some areas are very sparse in data so we had to fill in what we thought matched the general pattern and it turned out great!  Here is the full year of 2012 precipitation for Southwest Alabama.


This map was handmade since no computer program we have could do it to this precision.   You can tell the two areas that got over 90 inches of rain that is in South Mobile County and East Greene County.  The driest for this area was in Escambia County, Alabama in the Pollard area.  You are probably wondering why George County in Mississippi has been left blank.  That’s because there wasn’t enough data for that county so we had to leave it alone to try to keep the map as realistic as possible.

Now here is the map for Central Alabama.


Big difference in this area with the cooler colors.  The place with the most rain was over towards Plantersville in West Autauga County that had over 60 inches of rain.  The driest place is in the Auburn area in Lee County with about 31 inches.  That is pretty dry for one year.  Grand Bay in Mobile County triples that amount.  Stewart and Chattahoochee Counties were left blank because of the same reason as George County in Mississippi, there wasn’t enough data to make the map realistic.

Speaking of places with the most and the least amount of rain, which month had the most precipitation and which one had the least?  If you guessed the driest was in the summer and the wettest was in the winter then think again.  The month with the most precipitation, on average, is March.


That month received a little over 6 inches when you average all the locations out.  The driest month is the same month kids love to go Trick-or-Treat, October.


The average precipitation for this month is around 3 inches.  Pretty dry esp. when some locations got less than an inch of rain that whole month!

March being the wettest month and October being the driest month is very typical and is seen every year.  With that, things can be planned ahead of time depending on what you are wanting to do.