December Tornadoes from 1950 – 2016

When you think of December, you normally think of Christmas: Santa Claus, presents, visiting family – not tornadoes. This Funnel Feature highlights the F5’s that occurred this month, as well as giving a very general overview of these tornadoes, broken down by state between 1950 and 2016.

 

“The Big Picture”

State Mag 0 Mag 1 Mag 2 Mag 3 Mag 4 Mag 5 Total
Alabama 40 40 37 15 1 0 133
Alaska 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Arizona 0 3 0 0 0 0 3
Arkansas 37 48 22 16 2 0 125
California 23 21 0 0 0 0 44
Colorado 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Connecticut 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Delaware 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Florida 49 44 37 4 0 0 134
Georgia 37 35 27 5 0 0 104
Hawaii 4 1 0 0 0 0 5
Idaho 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Illinois 12 15 12 12 2 1 54
Indiana 4 9 5 2 0 0 20
Iowa 0 4 0 0 0 0 4
Kansas 13 2 1 0 0 0 16
Kentucky 3 6 5 1 0 0 15
Louisiana 34 71 22 6 3 0 136
Maine 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Maryland 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Massachusetts 0 1 1 0 0 0 2
Michigan 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mississippi 48 67 34 16 2 1 168
Missouri 21 54 31 5 1 0 112
Montana 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nebraska 2 1 2 0 0 0 5
Nevada 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Hampshire 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Jersey 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Mexico 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
New York 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
North Carolina 6 7 1 0 0 0 14
North Dakota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ohio 2 3 0 0 0 0 5
Oklahoma 2 10 13 3 0 0 28
Oregon 3 2 2 0 0 0 7
Pennsylvania 1 3 1 0 0 0 5
Rhode Island 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Carolina 5 7 6 4 1 0 23
South Dakota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tennessee 2 13 6 1 1 0 23
Texas 94 71 40 11 1 0 217
Utah 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
Vermont 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Virginia 0 2 0 0 0 0 2
Washington 2 2 0 1 0 0 5
West Virginia 3 0 0 0 0 0 3
Wisconsin 0 2 2 1 0 0 5
Wyoming 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Puerto Rico 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Washington DC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 451 547 307 103 14 2 1424

 

F5 Tornadoes

#1: Illinois 12/18/1957

A total of 25 tornadoes touched down on December 18, 1957 across Illinois and Missouri, one of which was an F5. This tornado, according to SPC’s tornado database, was on the ground for 5.4 miles in Perry County, IL. Sunfield community was wiped out at the intersection of US-51 and Hwy-154 (Grazulis). Several local and national newspapers were reporting over 100 deaths associated with the tornadoes during this outbreak. However, the tornado they were reporting about was an F4 that struck Murphysboro (and De Soto), Jackson County, IL. This tornado followed a section of the Tri-state Tornado of March 18, 1925 very closely (Grazulis).

 

 

#2:  Vicksburg, MS – 12/05/1953

Around 5:30PM Central time, a devastating tornado touched down just outside of Vicksburg, MS. The residents thought they were protected from a tornado since they had a river next to the city.  A warm front lifted through, bringing near 70 dewpoint temperatures and a very unstable air mass, primed for tornadic development (NWS Jackson).

The tornado touched down to the west of the Mississippi river then moved into Vicksburg, bringing $25 million in damage (before inflation – with inflation as of 2013, over $200 million). NWS Jackson summarizes this tornado very well – we suggest you go check it out if you wish to read more about this tornado: https://www.weather.gov/jan/1953_vicksburgtornado

 

Sources:

SPC Tornado Database

NCDC Storm Events Page

NWS Jackson, MS

Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1013.

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