The scenes from Illinois and Indiana are nothing short of gut wrenching.
Sunday’s major outbreak spawned 81 preliminary tornado reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center.
The numbers show Sunday’s major November tornado outbreak was big, but not unprecedented.
November features a “second season” for severe weather and tornadoes in the U.S. as powerful pre-winter cold fronts sweep south and east. There is often an increase in tornado numbers in late fall after a lull in late summer.
Looking back at November tornado numbers, it appears four of the past 12 years have featured November tornado outbreaks in line with Sunday’s event. This tweet from the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore puts the numbers in perspective.
Top 5 November #tornado outbreaks: #5 Nov27-28, 2005-56 #4 Nov23-24, 2001-66 #3 Nov09-11, 2002-82 #2 Nov23-24, 2004-93 #1 Nov21-23,1992-105
— Jim Cantore (@JimCantore) November 18, 2013
Hoosier Alley? Redefining tornado alley
We hear about “tornado alley” in the spring from Oklahoma to Iowa. In the fall it’s called “Dixie Alley” as tornado frequency often shifts to the southern states. Sunday’s outbreak occurred further north, north of the Ohio River in so-called “Hoosier Alley.”
Well forecast event
Sunday’s tornado outbreak while devastating was a major forecast success.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center placed a high risk for tornadoes north of the Ohio River. It may have been the farthest north a high risk has been forecast so late in the season. There is little doubt that the risk areas, and NOAA’s Particularly Dangerous Situation tornado watches and timely warnings saved numerous lives Sunday.
Here are the so-called “rotation tracks”‘ from the Chicago (Romeoville) National Weather Service Doppler radar from Sunday. Some of the twisters may have been “long track” tornadoes with tracks over 50 miles long.
Out of bounds for November?
Sunday’s outbreak, while not extremely rare for November, did occur unusually far north. Here’s a look at tornado climatology for November 17th vs. the location of Sunday’s outbreak from Climate Central.