Winter in Alabama is thought of as a time to catch one's breath before gearing up for the upcoming severe weather commonly associated with the warmer days of Spring. But with each passing year, the calm winters are looking more like Spring when it comes to tornadoes.
We analyzed the numbers, and you'll probably be surprised at just how loud the quiet winters actually are.
"It was a real dramatic day. I'm talking about real dramatic," admitted Antonio Brundidge. He's been converted. Not religiously. Not spiritually. But meteorologically.
"Felt like I couldn't breathe, like there was no oxygen," he went on about his experience. "Felt like it was sucking the life out of you."
Last Christmas, Antonio and his family watched an EF-2 tornado tear apart their mobile home during dinner. Surprising? not really.
"You could hear it just ripping everything, ripping everything, ripping everything," Antonio explained. Surprising? not really.
Spring in Alabama is notorious for severe weather. But December 25th does not fall within the Spring season.
On Christmas day a large tornado went through Mobile. Yet dating back to 1950, Alabama has seen more than 500 tornadoes during the cool season of November through February.
Where does that stack up? Roughly one out of every three tornadoes in Alabama's River Region and the Wiregrass strike during the coldest months, far removed from the warmth of Spring.
If you think your county has managed to avoid cold season tornadoes, think again. Each and every county in the southern half of Alabama has experienced at least one cold season tornado since 1950.
Specifically, the total numbers are pretty impressive with 14 tornadoes in Autauga, Elmore and Tallapoosa counties and 13 in Montgomery County. Also in the Wiregrass, the totals are equally impressive with 14 in Dale and Henry counties and 13 in Houston and Barbour.
While many of these cold season twisters rank low on the EF scale, several strong tornadoes have carved paths through Dallas, Autauga, Montgomery, Elmore, Macon and Lee counties through the years. These include the F-3 tornado that roared through the eastside of Montgomery in November of 1979, injuring 50 and causing $2.5 million dollars in damage.
And more recently, the EF-2 "Fun Zone" tornado of 2006 that destroyed a business full of playing children. Miraculously, there were no fatalities, and injuries were few.
During these cold months encompassing the winter season, tornadoes have injured more than 2000 Alabamians and claimed the lives of more than 100.
Spring grabs the headlines, but winter tornadoes have been flying under the radar, so to speak. Not anymore.
"I'll never forget it," Antonio says, "and I'll always be aware now."
It begs the question: Does Alabama have a particular season for tornadoes? It's debatable, unless you want to consider "year-round" a season.
Want to see a county-by-county breakdown of both tornadoes and percentage of tornadoes for your backyard? Read more on the weather blog.
There's also more in depth discussion about why the cold months have become so active for tornadoes.
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