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Jacksonville avoids deadly tornado outbreak

Here's why storms broke down on a path to the city

Tornado watch boxes cover areas NW of Jacksonville Sunday evening before the squall weakened and pushed through the First Coast.
Tornado watch boxes cover areas NW of Jacksonville Sunday evening before the squall weakened and pushed through the First Coast.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – It was the deadliest tornado outbreak in six years with 35 tornado reports across Florida, Alabama, Georgia, yet storms weakened before moving into Jacksonville.  

Sunday evening tornado watch boxes issued by the Storm Prediction Center wrapped around northeast Florida but only a quarter inch of rain came down in gentile overnight rain.

Jacksonville benifited from a weather pattern that fortunately prevented the deadly tornado outbreak from impacting the area. 

Northeast Florida is outside the zone where Gulf moisture and upper winds combine in producing tornadic storms. 

This was the case Sunday when storms progresses eastward across Northeast Florida.

The line of storms weakened while moving into an environment with lower dew points and shear.

In contrast a classic tornado setup developed as low pressure over Louisiana drew up moisture behind a warm front draped across central Alabama.  

High dew points indicative of the soupy moist air in the wake of the front clashed with drier air to the north.

As high winds blew in aloft the stage was set for rotating thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes.

The situation left at least 23 people dead in multiple tornadoes across Lee County, Alabama. 

The county suffered the most destructive twister that ripped at least a half mile wide path across the southern part of the county in what is believed to be EF-3 tornado based on initial damage.

Shearing strong winds aloft often occur in a part of the country called Dixie Alley which stretches from eastern Texas and Arkansas across Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.

More people are killed in Dixie Alley compared to Tornado Alley despite its counterpart averaging more tornadoes.
More people are killed in Dixie Alley compared to Tornado Alley despite its counterpart averaging more tornadoes.

As moisture flows in from the Gulf  tornadoes develop in the Alley most often in early spring and late autumn.


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