According to data from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, during January, there were 48 preliminary tornado reports. This is above the 1991-2010 average of 35 tornadoes for the month of January. Six days during the month produced tornadoes several of which will be briefly summarized.
The first tornado event for the month began on January 1, as 13 tornadoes produced scattered damage to homes, vehicles and infrastructure across central Kentucky, south central Tennessee and northern Alabama. These were mostly weaker EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes that caused damage to homes, vehicles, vegetation and infrastructure. Dozens of agriculture buildings were also damaged or destroyed with debris blown several hundred yards from the original structures in Barren County, Kentucky. There was also one EF-2 tornado in Christian County, Kentucky that caused damage to numerous businesses, a gas station, vegetation and other infrastructure. There were no fatalities.
The most prolific tornado event of the month occurred on January 8-9, as 23 tornadoes occurred in eastern Texas, western Louisiana and south central Alabama. These were mostly EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes that caused damage to homes, vehicles, a hotel and other infrastructure. There was also heavy tree damage south of the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. In addition, there was one EF-2 tornado that caused heavy damage to dozens of homes in Sabine County, Louisiana including several injuries. There were no fatalities.
January 16 was another notable day, as 8 tornadoes caused impacts along the southwestern coast of Florida. Several EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes formed as waterspouts that caused damage to homes, vehicles, numerous boats in a marina and other infrastructure. The strongest tornado was an EF-2 in Lee County that damaged or destroyed over 100 homes and caused numerous injuries. There were no fatalities.
Did You Know?
Final monthly tornado counts are typically less than the preliminary count. This can be due to some phenomena being inaccurately reported as tornadic activity or a single tornado being reported multiple times. Tornado accounts are reported to the local National Weather Service forecast offices who are responsible for going into the field and verifying each tornado reported. This process often takes several months to complete. Once all reports have been investigated, the final count is published by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).
The Tornado Monthly Climate Reports are written using the preliminary numbers because the final data is not available at the time of production. Historically, for every 100 preliminary tornado reports, at least 65 tornadoes are confirmed. An error bar is depicted on the tornado count graphic representing this uncertainty in the preliminary tornado count.
The following U.S. studies performed by SPC meteorologists offer deeper context and discussion regarding the frequency and distribution of tornado intensity climatologies:
- Edwards, R., H. E. Brooks, and H. Cohn, 2021: Changes in tornado climatology accompanying the Enhanced Fujita scale. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 60, 1465-1482, DOI: 10.1175/JAMC-D-21-0058.1.
- Mccarthy, Daniel & Schaefer, Joseph. (2004). Tornado trends over the past thirty years. paper presented at 14th Conference on Applied Meteorology.