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.



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