Deadly storms produced near-record number of twisters in January

Preliminary numbers suggest nearly 170 tornadoes touched down across the United States in January.

A parade of storms south of the border spawned a near-record number of twisters in the month of January.

Preliminary data collected by the U.S. Storm Prediction Center (SPC) revealed 168 reported tornadoes across the country during the first month of the year.

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January 2023 US Tornado Count

This is the second-highest number of tornadoes ever reported in the United States in January, coming in behind the 214 tornadoes witnessed in January 1999.

An average January in the U.S. would see about 40 tornadoes, mostly concentrated in states like Mississippi and Alabama.

A series of powerful winter storms cutting across North America led to multiple severe weather outbreaks across the southern half of the U.S., with the bulk of the activity unfolding from Texas to North Carolina.

The month’s worst outbreak unfolded on January 12, when more than a dozen tornadoes touched down in the southeast. One of those tornadoes killed seven people and produced EF-3 damage as it cut a path measuring more than 120 km long through central Alabama.

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SPC Tornado Reports January 2023

While tornado activity picks up in the spring and peaks by the beginning of June, tornadoes are truly a year-round threat in the United States.

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Vast winter storms sweeping across the U.S. and Canada often have plenty of warm air and instability on the southern half of the storm to produce vigorous severe weather outbreaks across the southern states.

Some of the United States’ most destructive tornadoes in recent years occurred during the winter months. One such event was an intense outbreak in December 2021 that claimed the lives of nearly 90 people, becoming the country’s deadliest outbreak in a decade.

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Thumbnail image created by Dennis Mersereau using imagery from Unsplash.