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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)

Major tornado outbreak likely Sunday

By Jesse Ferrell
2/02/2017, 10:55:32 AM

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UPDATE: Please see this entry for a summary of the Inaugural Tornado Outbreak's statistics:

After two days of deadly tornadoes, even worse is on tap for today, Sunday Jan. 22, 2017. I'd like to say today won't go down in history as a major tornado outbreak with a large number of fatalities, but methodologically speaking, it seems likely. The Storm Prediction Center issued a rare high risk for parts of the Southeast today, setting the following records:*

SPC High Risk 1/22

  • The first High Risk in the United States since June 2014.
  • Only the second High Risk ever issued in January -- the last one was in 1999.
  • The first High Risk including Georgia or Florida since 2007.
  • The first time that the Georgia coast or northern Florida Peninsula has ever been in a high risk box.

What concerns me about this is that the residents of today's High Risk area may have never seen tornadoes this big before. In fact, the SPC says the chance of major tornadoes (EF-3 to EF-5) is high. Southern Georgia and Florida have only seen 2 EF-4 tornadoes each since 1950; no EF-5s.

The low pressure system that's causing the severe thunderstorms is going to be very strong -- last night's run of the 4K-NAM model predicted a minimum central pressure of 977mb -- equivalent to the normal pressure of a Category 2 Hurricane -- which threatened all-time pressure records in the inland Southeast.

All-Time Pressure Records Threatened 1/22

Fortunately, today's models have raised the pressure by a few millibars -- but records will still be close. The HRRR model this morning suggested the low pressure area might present with an eye-like feature invoking memories of the "inland hurricane" or "landcane" of 2010.

HRRR Forecast Simuradar 1/22

HRRR Forecast Simuradar 1/22 (Zoom)

*Reliable records go back to 1980. While the 06Z March 1, 2007 risk map shown on WikiPedia did not include this area, the 13Z outlook did. Prior to that, 1989 may have been the last time the Panhandle and southwest Georgia saw a High Risk.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)