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”

StateMag 0Mag 1Mag 2Mag 3Mag 4Mag 5Total
Alabama4040371510133
Alaska0000000
Arizona0300003
Arkansas3748221620125
California2321000044
Colorado0000000
Connecticut0000000
Delaware0000000
Florida494437400134
Georgia373527500104
Hawaii4100005
Idaho1000001
Illinois121512122154
Indiana49520020
Iowa0400004
Kansas132100016
Kentucky36510015
Louisiana347122630136
Maine0000000
Maryland1000001
Massachusetts0110002
Michigan0100001
Minnesota0000000
Mississippi4867341621168
Missouri215431510112
Montana0000000
Nebraska2120005
Nevada0000000
New Hampshire0000000
New Jersey0000000
New Mexico1100002
New York0000000
North Carolina67100014
North Dakota0000000
Ohio2300005
Oklahoma2101330028
Oregon3220007
Pennsylvania1310005
Rhode Island0000000
South Carolina57641023
South Dakota0000000
Tennessee213611023
Texas9471401110217
Utah1100002
Vermont0000000
Virginia0200002
Washington2201005
West Virginia3000003
Wisconsin0221005
Wyoming0000000
Puerto Rico0000000
Washington DC0000000
Total4515473071031421424

 

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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