November and December among the riskiest months
Staff Reports, Hartselle Enquirer
When most people think of severe weather in Alabama, their minds turn to spring.
However, as evidenced by last week's devastating tornadoes , that's not always the case.
Regarded as the "second season" of severe weather during the year, officials from the National Weather Service in Birmingham say the likelihood of an outbreak of severe weather during the months of November and December is high.
Last weekend, tornadoes cut a path through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, claiming more than 30 lives and causing more than $1 million in property damage. More than 30 tornadoes were reported on Nov. 10 alone. This echoes last November, when a record number of severe weather outbreaks were reported.
Officials at the NWS say there are two time periods during the year when the Tennessee Valley area is more at risk of severe weather. The first time period is during the months of March, April and May. The second time period is during the latter part of October through December.
During the first time period, the cold winter months are on the way out and warmer, spring-like temperatures are entering. Two different temperature situations are going on and the contrast between cold and warm is when severe weather outbreaks are likely to happen.
"We were fortunate this past spring that we didn't have near the number of tornado outbreaks that we usually have during this time frame," said meteorologist Faith Borden. "The average number of tornado events in Alabama during the year is 22."
It's just the opposite during the latter part of October through mid December. The warm months of summer are leaving and colder temperatures associated with fall and winter are now arriving. The contrast is where severe weather outbreaks are likely to happen.
A tornado that hit the city of Haleyville on Nov.24, 2001, a tornado that hit the city of Tuscaloosa in December 2000, and a tornado that hit the city of Huntsville in November 1989 are examples of the severe weather outbreaks that have occurred in Alabama.
A full service National Weather Service office is scheduled to open in Huntsville on Jan. 24, 2003. The office will have an 11-county coverage area, including Morgan County.