While most of the country hunkered down against the cold, people in Alabama hunkered down against tornadoes, which killed 23 people in Alabama and injured six in Georgia who were given only a five-minute warning before the tornado hit.
One EF-4 tornado left at least a mile-wide, 24-mile long track across Lee County, Alabama, located on the east-central state border, and traveled into Georgia, according to a CNN interview with National Weather Service Birmingham office Meteorologist Chris Darden.
The Weather Channel reports that the tornado stayed on the ground for 70 miles.
The storm produced 170mph winds, and flattened the town of Beauregard, Alabama. The damage as shown from ariel photos much like the straight-line wind damage experienced on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation this past summer.
Three other EF-1 tornadoes touched down in Alabama, and a dozen others reportedly along the southeastern borders of Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
The EF-4 that hit Alabama this past Sunday was a step down from the 2013 EF-5 that hit Oklahoma killing 24 people, and is the deadliest tornado to hit Alabama since 2011, the CNN report indicated.
March marks the beginning of tornado season, and Atmospheric Scientist Mark Ellinwood on ustornadoes.com, predicts that 2019 will be a “quieter than normal season.”
A normal season tracks a normal season between 470 – 511 tornadoes. Below normal would be less than 470 tornadoes, and above normal would be more than 550 tornadoes.
The buckling of the jet stream, called troughing, is causing storms from the north to dip further into the south, carrying with it the cold winter weather and snow that southern states do not normally experience.
Ellinwood suggests that the troughing may reduce the number of tornadoes that hit this season in an article published on March 1, two days before the tornadoes hit in Alabama and Georgia.
“Short warm-ups and brief periods of moisture return should ensure that each disturbance won’t have that much fuel to work with,” Ellinwood reported.
However, tornadoes were also reported across the south in January, one measuring an EF-2.
The change in weather patterns and the unpredictability of the weather seems to fulfill the predictions of climatologists’ in the Fourth Annual Climate Assessment released by the White House in November, as the nation battles extreme weather conditions from northern border to the southern border and from coast to coast.
Ellinwood said that early indications do not mean that a quieter season is certain, as seen in previous years when the first half of the season was quiet, and the latter half not so.