January saw more than its share of tornado activity, setting a record for the second-most active January dating back to 1950.
An estimated 168 tornadoes touched down by Jan. 30, according to preliminary information from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.
The only January with more tornadoes was January 1999 with 214.
The month started stormy as a tornado was reported near Norphelt, Arkansas, on Jan. 2. Sixty-one tornadoes would be reported over the next 72 hours. Among the 20 tornadoes reported on Jan. 2 was an an EF2 tornado in Jonesboro, Louisiana.
Reported January tornadoes
When did the most tornadoes occur?
Almost half the tornadoes occurred on Jan 12, when a massive storm system ripped across the South. The weather service reported 70 tornadoes, including two EF3 tornadoes that caused 34 injuries and at least nine deaths in Alabama and Georgia.
Alabama saw most tornadoes
Alabama closed the month with 49 tornadoes, more than any other state. Georgia suffered 33 tornadoes.
Alabama is among a number of Southern states that have seen an increase in tornado activity in recent decades. The annual average number of reported tornadoes doubled in Alabama from 2000 to 2020. The average rose by more than 50% in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia over that same period.
Alabama finished 2022 third in overall number of tornadoes with 117, behind Mississippi with 184 and Texas with 160.
“This has been a big January, but it would be a very small May,” said Harold Brooks, a senior research scientist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory. Tornadoes can strike any month of the year, but typically most develop between April and June.
In 2022, March, April and May were the three busiest months for tornadoes, with more than 700 reported.
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Story Credit: usatoday.com