TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tornado season for the southeast, which normally peaks a few months from now, is showing signs of an early start.
January was pretty much business as usual tornado-wise. On average, the United States sees 40 tornadoes in January, and last month we saw 48 reports of tornadoes across the country.
But the cold front setting up across the country to sweep through the southeast on Thursday looks much more like what we see well into the peak of the southeast tornado season.
In the interest of abundant clarity, our area will not see any severe weather at all. This will pass well to the north of the Tampa Bay area.
The cold front is ahead of a blast of arctic polar air that will bring ice and snow into the southeast.
The initial line of storms where that frigid, dry air meets the warmer-than-average, moist air across the southeast is expected to spur a tornadic outbreak from Louisiana and Mississippi through northern Georgia into Tennessee and the western Carolinas.
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) places many areas under a moderate risk for severe storms on Thursday.
To compare this to what we normally see in terms of number of tornadoes, the peak months across the United States are in the late Spring and early Summer. April, May and June have the highest number of tornadoes across the U.S. while January, February, September, November and December typically have the lowest number of tornadoes country-wide.
Interestingly enough, Florida’s tornado climatology is quite different. Of the 10 deadliest tornado outbreaks across the state, half of them occurred during the month of February.
Also, Florida sees the highest number of tornadoes per 10,000 square miles than any other states. Of course, Florida is much smaller, landmass-wise, than states like Texas – which sees higher numbers of tornadoes. But in terms of concentration, Florida sees the highest numbers – although most are very weak, EF-0 tornadoes.
While February may be one of the slower months in terms of numbers of tornadoes, when you look at the months of February for the past six years, we’ve seen at least one deadly tornado each of the years.