JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- – 2023 has already been a very busy year in the US for severe weather and tornadoes.
Multiple severe weather events have already occurred in January, from the northern Gulf Coast to the Midwest, to even central California.
According to the Storm Prediction Center, 139 unconfirmed tornadoes have been reported already this month. While some of these reports are likely duplicates, this number is well ahead of last year’s number of 37 tornadoes for all of January.
The three-year average for January tornadoes in the US is 47.
Two tornadoes have already occurred in our area this year.
Southeast Georgia saw an EF-1 tornado in Pierce County and an EF-0 tornado in Charlton County on January 4.
Unfortunately, deaths from tornadoes are also well ahead of average.
The Storm Prediction Center has reported 8 deaths already this month. 2022 featured no deaths, which is also the three-year average.
Why so many tornadoes?
Despite the cold and stability that is often in place across much of the country, tornadoes can occur in the first month of the year.
The La Nina pattern that is currently in place has been driving powerful storm systems across California and into the northern Gulf coast states.
These strong storm systems are producing thunderstorms which have become capable of producing tornadoes.
For much of January, the cold and stable airmass has been bottled up in Canada and parts of the Pacific Northwest. This has allowed moist, unstable air to move forward, which helps fuel severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
More tornadoes expected
Unfortunately, the active January for tornadoes is expected to continue Tuesday.
Much of the northern Gulf coast and parts of coastal Texas are under an enhanced risk for severe weather and tornadoes.
A narrow corridor from near Corpus Christi to Mobile has been outlooked by the Storm Prediction Center for the threat of strong tornadoes during Tuesday afternoon and evening.
Additional tornadoes, some of which could be strong, are becoming likely later Tuesday.
Severe weather threat locally
This storm system will push toward the area on Wednesday. It will be much weaker, but strong to severe storms will be possible.
The entire area has been placed in a slight risk for strong to severe storms. Tornadoes will be possible, with the highest risk in southeast Georgia and areas west of I-75 in northeast Florida.
It’s been a very busy start to 2023 with severe weather and tornadoes, and more are likely to close out the month of January.