Fall Severe Weather Awareness Day
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

National Weather Service offices across Alabama and Tennessee are supporting Severe Weather Awareness Day on Wednesday, October 16, 2013. The purpose of this day is to call attention to a secondary peak in severe weather that occurs during the fall season.  Although severe weather outbreaks across the Tennessee Valley, including the potential for strong to violent tornadoes, are more common during March, April and May, severe weather can happen at any time throughout the year.  Since 1950, 71 tornadoes have occurred across North Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee during the fall months (September/October/November/December). 

The secondary spike in tornado/severe weather activity in the fall months historically peaks in November (as seen in the chart below on the left).  However, as can also be seen in the chart below on the right, over the last 10 years (since 2003), tornadoes have more commonly occurred during October.  Click here for more interesting fall tornado charts.



Severe Weather Safety Tips

Your National Weather Service, the Alabama and Tennessee Emergency Management Agencies, and other supporting organizations, encourage you to get together with family and friends to increase your education and understanding of severe weather safety.  Take the time now to learn more about severe weather and develop a safety plan of action when severe weather watches or warnings are issued. These best practices could save your life and the lives of others. Click on the link below to get more safety information. 

Tornadoes Thunderstorms Hail Floods Lightning

Nightime tornadoes can be particularly devastating and life-threatening.  In the last 10 years (since 2003), 11 of the 27 tornadoes that occurred between September and December touched down between 7 pm and 7 am.  This can be seen in the chart below. 

Tornadoes could occur while you are asleep at night, when it is almost impossible to see them coming. That is why having multiple alert mechanisms to receive warnings is extremely important.  One great source for warnings is a NOAA Weather Radio, since it disseminates all official storm warnings and can wake you up with audible alerts if you are asleep. Having at least two alert methods is a very good idea. Various ways to receive these alerts include: Wireless Emergency Alerts, NOAA Weather Radio, cell phone alerts, local radio and television stations, etc.

Past Fall Severe Weather Pictures

Wall Cloud viewed at Wallace State College - Later Became a Tornado Wall Cloud over the City of Madison - Viewed from the Asbury United Methodist Church
 Wall Cloud near Wallace State College - October 26, 2010 Wall Cloud over Madison - October 26, 2010
Southern Madison County Wind Damage Southern DeKalb County Tornado Damage - North of Geraldine
Southern Madison County Damage - October 26, 2010 Southern DeKalb County Damage - October 26, 2010

Recent Fall Season Severe Weather Episodes across the Huntsville NWS Forecast Area

  • 2010: Numerous severe thunderstorms and several tornadoes affected the Tennessee Valley during late October. One of these was an EF-2 tornado which affected Jackson and Dekalb counties.
  • 2009: Severe thunderstorms produced widespread wind damage across much of North Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee on October 9th. An EF-1 tornado touched down just south of Fayetteville, Tennessee resulting in extensive damage around the Timber Lake community.
  • 2007: Severe thunderstorms caused considerable straight-line wind damage across Northwest Alabama on October 18th. An EF-1 tornado tracked into southern Lawrence County, downing several trees in Bankhead National Forest.
  • 2004: Severe weather occurred before the typical November secondary peak. Tornadoes struck Lauderdale and Colbert Counties on October 18th (check out the storm survey here).
  • 2003: A significant line of thunderstorms plowed through the Tennessee Valley on November 18th, resulting in significant straight-line wind damage. Damaging wind gusts can be just as destructive as tornadoes.
  • 2002: The infamous Veteran's Day Tornado Outbreak produced an F3 tornado in Cullman County, which damaged more than 150 structures (check out the storm survey here).
  • 2001: Six of the eight tornadoes that hit Northern Alabama this year occurred with the November 24th outbreak. This event broke a record for the number of tornadoes that occurred during a 24-hour period in the state of Alabama.
  • Of course, the infamous 1989 Huntsville tornado occurred in November as well. This F4 tornado (207-260 mph winds) tore through south Huntsville on November 15, 1989, touching down on Redstone Arsenal at 4:30pm. The tornado eventually killed 21 people, injured more than 460 people, and caused more than $250 million in damages.

This the perfect time of the year to check your preparedness plans. Make sure your NOAA Weather Radio has fresh batteries in it. Make sure you have a means of receiving severe weather information. Make sure you know what you should do if threatening weather approaches.

The routine weekly test on NOAA Weather Radio will be conducted on Severe Weather Awareness Day. Media outlets will be working with the National Weather Service to publicize weather safety as well.

Additional Information

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.