Hazards and Threats

Tornadoes

2013 U.S. Tornado Map

Since 2001, there has been an average of 1,200 tornadoes per year in the United States. While the majority are concentrated in "Tornado Alley," tornadoes can occur in all states, any day of the year, and at any time of day. On average, tornadoes are responsible for 60 deaths per year and millions of dollars in damage. America's most deadly tornado struck on March 18, 1925, when 747 people were killed in a line of storms that raged through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. In the period 2000-2010, Alabama was struck by 669 tornadoes. In 2011 the state was impacted by 177 tornadoes, more than twice the annual average for the previous 10 years.

Current Situation

May 1-- Severe weather, including heavy rain, hail and tornades hit Alabama April 28-30. NOAA Storm Prediction Center reports for April 28 include tornadoes, damaging winds, and hail. See also NWS Birmingham's graphical track survey status and NWS Huntsville provides survey status here. NWS Mobile/Pensacola reports data on the flash flood event April 29-30 that was also part of the storm system that moved eastward from the Plains.

- Previous Activity -

Recovery Resources are listed below.

Be Prepared

Recognize warning conditions. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), tornadoes typically form in supercell thunderstorms. A supercell thunderstorm has an organized internal structure characterized by a single, rotating updraft.  A funnel cloud is a region of strong rotation in the thunderstorm. The funnel cloud becomes a tornado when it reaches the ground. Most people will learn of tornado danger through watches and warning issued by NWS. Stay alert to weather forecasts for information about potential severe weather.

Keep a NOAA radio tuned to alerts for your county. Visit the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards page for a listing of Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) codes by county for Alabama.

Know the difference between tornado watches and warnings. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in your area. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted by storm spotters or indicated by weather radar. If you are in the path of the storm, immediately go to your safe location.

The keys to surviving a tornado are know you are in danger, know where to go, and move quickly.  When a tornado is coming, you have very little time to make decisions that may mean life or death. Long in advance of any storm, there are three things you can do that will help you.

  1. Determine your safe places. Decide well ahead of stormy weather the best place to take shelter at home and in the workplace.
  2. Develop a plan. Develop a written plan of what to do in the event of a tornado and share it with your family or employees.
  3. Create a disaster supply kit. Whether the kit is for home or work, it should include: food and water; medicines, copies of prescriptions, personal hygiene items, first aid supplies; important documents, personal identification, copies of insurance; cash or travelers check; other essential items such as flashlights, extra batteries,  seasonal clothing, blanket, battery operated or crank radio, and cell phone chargers.

Tornado Recovery Resources

First Steps

Health Issues

Agriculture

Storm-Damaged Trees

Long-Term Recovery