The spring season for the Deep South is one of two severe weather seasons we experience. Between March and May, strong storms systems that track through the region have a greater chance to produce severe thunderstorms. Strong to severe storms thrive when there is a warm unstable air mass, wind shear and moisture in place. During the spring season, we see a shift in our weather pattern. This, combined with the increased amount of sunshine, can help support this potential.
The graphic above shows the number of tornado warnings that have been issued in both 2021 and 2022. The first column shows the number of tornado warnings issued between January 1 and April 20. In 2021, 91 warnings were issued in Alabama compared to the 118 warnings issued this year. This April has been a bit more active for the state, with multiple potent weather systems tracking through. So far this month, 26 tornado warnings have been issued. The majority of these have been in central Alabama, compared to zero last year.
Above you will find the number of tornadoes by county for the National Weather Office in Huntsville’s warning area. Madison County has seen the most tornadoes with a total of 80, Marshall county is second with 72, and DeKalb County is third with 68 tornadoes. In Southern Middle Tennessee, Lincoln County has seen the most with 37.
The weather this year has certainly been a rollercoaster ride so far! When it comes to severe weather, the Tennessee Valley has seen seven tornadoes. Of the seven tornadoes, two were EF-1 strength and five were EF-0 strength. Thankfully, although we have seen multiple rounds of severe weather already this April, there have been no tornadoes. The storm impacts we have seen so far this month are wind damage and hail.
Alabama Tornado Stats
Tornadoes in Alabama are not uncommon, in fact during the springtime, the chance for tornadoes increases. Between the months of March, April and May 1,119 tornadoes touched down in the state. This is looking at data from 1950 to 2020. The highest totals correspond to our two severe weather seasons, March through May and then the month of November.
Breaking this down by county, we see a large range from some counties seeing less than 20 tornadoes to others that have had more than 80 tornadoes. Some of the counties that have had the highest amount of tornadoes include Baldwin, Cullman, Jefferson, Limestone, Madison and Mobile. Whether you are on the higher or lower end of this scale, it is important to make sure you always have a way to receive watches and warnings.
2022 got off to an active start not only in the Tennessee Valley but across the entire state of Alabama. On New Year’s Day, we saw severe storms that produced tornadoes, hail and heavy rainfall. Above is a look at the total number of tornado warnings that have been issued from January 1 to April 20. The National Weather Services that cover the counties in Alabama have issued a total of 118 warnings, eight of which were issued by the National Weather Service in Huntsville. When comparing this number to the rest of the continental United States, Alabama is ranked number one. Close behind is Mississippi with 116 warnings and Texas with 104.
Tennessee Tornado Stats
In Tennessee, tornadoes are not uncommon but the number of tornadoes in the state is lower than in Alabama. The most active season and the best chance for storms capable of producing tornadoes are during the springtime months. During the month of April, 210 tornadoes have touched down in the state. This would be considered the most active month. The second graphic gives a look at the number of tornadoes per county in the state. The highest number is more concentrated in the central part of Tennessee. Portions of western Tennessee would be another area to watch for tornado development, due to the storms that may track through from Arkansas. The topography in eastern Tennessee helps limit the severe weather potential and tornado threat for that area of the state.
Taking a look at Tennessee, this year there have only been 22 tornado warnings that have been issued. The majority of these warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Memphis. The farther east the storms traveled, the environment was less favorable. Though the month of April has been active for western parts of the state, the entire state as a whole has seen more strong thunderstorm activity. When looking at data from this time last year, 144 Tornado Warnings were issued for the state between January 1 and April 20.
During any type of severe weather event, you can count on the Weather Authority to provide you with the latest information.