Tornadoes can spin up in any month of the year in the United States when the necessary atmospheric ingredients come together. In winter months such as January, when cold air is abundant, they are not as common, but that doesn't mean you can let your guard down.
Since early morning on January 21, 2017, a preliminary 30 reports of tornadoes have been tallied up from Louisiana to southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and southern Georgia, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.
A deadly EF3 tornado touched down in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, early Saturday, which caused considerable damage and killed four people.
Early Sunday morning, at least 12 people were killed by a likely tornado or multiple tornadoes in southern Georgia.
During the 20-year period of 1996 through 2015, the first calendar month of the year has averaged about 40 tornadoes annually. It's the third-least-tornadic month, along with December and February.
The number of tornadoes in January has ranged from a record 212 in 1999 to zero in 2003 and 1986. A single outbreak produced 129 of the January 1999 tornadoes during a two-day period.
This year, dozens of tornadoes touched down in the South on Jan. 2. That has propelled the preliminary tornado count to 50 through the midpoint of the month, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.
The deadliest January tornadoes on record both occurred in Arkansas. Fifty-five people were killed in Warren on Jan. 3, 1949, and 55 lost their lives in Fort Smith on Jan. 11, 1898.
Deadly tornadoes have occurred in January in 5 of the past 10 years through 2016.
While these facts may seem like a history lesson the main purpose is to reiterate that tornadoes don't wait until spring to strike. They can occur at any time of the year and you should always have a plan for safety.
At Tornado Alley Armor our hearts go out to the families and victims that lost their lives over this weekend. We pray that no one else is injured in the storms that are still on the way.