Severe weather can happen any time of the year but in Alabama, the spring and fall seasons tend to bring the most storm reports. As we go into November, weather patterns change in a way that ingredients become more favorable for severe storms. In fact, November has brought 292 tornadoes in the state with records dating 1950 to 2022. Severe storms, including tornadoes, can occur as well in December. This is why Wednesday, October 18 is Fall Severe Weather Awareness Day in Alabama. It’s a day to get prepared for the changes ahead. Severe weather can mean thunderstorms, hail, flooding, tornadoes and/or lightning, for example. Lightning is the number two weather killer in the U.S.
Here are some tornado statistics by month for the state of Alabama:
The safest place to be during a tornado warning is in an above or below-ground storm shelter, a basement, or the lowest level, interior-most room of your home away from windows. This could be your bathroom or your closet. Make sure you have a helmet or hard hat and tennis shoes on. Flying debris poses the greatest risk of injury during tornadoes. Tennis shoes provide safety in case you have to walk outside in debris after a severe storm hits. Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Make plans ahead of time to get to a safe place if you live in a mobile home.
It’s important to know the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING. A watch means that conditions are favorable for severe storm development. A warning means severe weather is occurring and one should take action immediately. Know what county you live in too, since alerts are scrolled on TV by county. On radar maps, warnings are displayed by polygons.
During broadcasts, you might see the Weather Authority team use a map that shows risk levels. The risk levels used are from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. They issue risk levels and watches for the entire country. The risk levels are marginal, slight, enhanced, moderate and high, with marginal (1/5) being the lowest and high (5/5) being the highest. It’s important to know that even in a level 1 out of 5 risk, severe weather can still occur, including tornadoes.
Here are the SPC risk levels and what they mean:
Have a plan in place and make sure you have multiple ways to get warnings! Our Live Alert 19 weather app will alert you in the event of severe weather as long as you program your location. As long as this is set and your GPS is turned on, you will be alerted for a tornado anywhere you travel if you’re within the warning polygon. TV, NOAA weather radios, and radio are other ways to get warnings. It’s important to have multiple ways to get warnings and a way to get woken up in the middle of the night. Make sure you have your tone alerts on.
Watch the Weather Authority team for the latest on any severe weather threats!