2022 has been a difficult year for Alabama thus far as the state clocks in more tornado warnings than any other in America. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Alabama has been issued 115 tornado warnings as of April, overtaking Mississippi and Texas, states that historically see the most tornadoes in the U.S. Here is everything you need to know about tornado season in Alabama.
When Is It?
Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year but are more likely to occur during certain times — tornadoes seasons. In America, tornadoes season falls between March and early May. Alabama, like most other states, will see an uptick in tornadoes during this time, however, April is by far the most active period. There is a secondary tornadoes season in Alabama which runs from November to December.
Where Do the Tornadoes Hit?
Residents all throughout Alabama will experience tornadoes but the counties that see the highest activity are the Jefferson, Baldwin, Tuscaloosa, Cullman, Mobile, Madison, Tuscaloosa, and Marshall counties. Baldwin and Mobile experience high numbers due to landfalling tropical systems in the summer and fall. Meanwhile, the other counties see high numbers of tornadoes due to their meteorological condition. Tuscaloosa, Cullman, Jefferson, Madison, and Marshall also have dense populations.
Of the listed counties, Jefferson County experiences the most number of tornadoes of any other county in Alabama, with over 105 tornadoes since the 1950s. The second place belongs to Mobile County which has seen 100 tornadoes in the same time period
Types of Tornado Warnings
Due to how commonplace tornadoes are, Alabama has different tornado alerts that inform its residents of what to expect. There are three different types of alerts: tornado watches, tornado warnings, and tornado emergencies.
A tornado watch indicates that meteorological conditions are favorable for spawning tornadoes over a large area. This means that not everyone within the watch will see turbulent weather or tornadoes, but the possibility remains. This alert can last for several hours. Under this alert, you will need to be prepared for severe weather conditions.
A tornado warning means that a tornado has already spawned and been spotted, or has been picked up on by radar. This alert lasts for a much shorter period of time, typically no more than an hour. However, this alert is much more urgent, prompting immediate action from residents. Under this alert, you will need to quickly find shelter and protect yourself and your loved ones.
Last but not least, a tornado emergency is the rarest of the three alerts but the most severe. This alert indicates that the incoming tornado is acutely dangerous to human life and will likely cause catastrophic damage. These are only issued for incredibly violent tornadoes that are slated to cause extensive damage to both infrastructure and human life.
What Should You Do?
How long do you have after the alert has been issued to find a secure shelter? Unfortunately, a tornado warning alert may not give you a lot of time, with some only giving you a 5-minute head-start to take cover before the tornado hits. As such, if you need more than 5 minutes to reach and secure your chosen safe place, you and your loved ones will need to head toward your shelter as soon as a tornado watch is issued. This is particularly true for those residing in mobile or manufactured homes. We recommend staying in a safe place for the entire duration of the tornado watch as it can change from a watch to a warning at any time. For those living in retirement communities, you will need to consult the on-site team regarding the evacuation plan as well as the designated safe places.