Forecast for Jan 22-23 Severe Weather Outbreak Timeline
A major outbreak of severe weather the night of January 22nd into the morning of January 23rd spawned numerous tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and hail. The storms damaged numerous homes across the South, and 2 people in Alabama were killed. The severe weather setup was identified days in advance, with forecasts becoming more urgent and specific leading up to the event. Below is a timeline of the forecasts, watches and warnings indicating dangerous weather was on the way, but according the lead story on ABC News Monday evening, the following events might as well have never happened. Here is a clip from ABC world news, in which the story says the tornadoes were a "surprise" and struck with "no warning"
Here is what actually happened:
1:30 PM Friday January 20th - The Storm Prediction Center in Norman Oklahoma issues an updated severe weather outlook for Sunday into Sunday night. A large portion of the South is upgraded to a SLIGHT risk for severe storms. Meteorologists, some of which of have already been discussing the possibility for severe weather a couple days prior, communicate the possibility of strong storms.
11:30 AM Saturday January 21st - The Storm Prediction Center indicates the possibility of a large scale severe weather outbreak with the likelihood of tornadoes, some of which could be strong. The percentage chance of severe weather within 25 miles of a given point is increased to 30% within the red area. The black outline indicates an enhanced threat of significant severe weather, including EF2+ intensity tornadoes. Local TV meteorologists actively discuss the possibility of a tornado outbreak in this region on TV, radio and Internet. Storm spotters plan to activate for Sunday evening into Monday morning.
11:58 PM Saturday January 21st - The Storm Prediction Center upgrades parts of the Mid-South to a MODERATE risk, highlighting a higher confidence in a severe weather scenario.
Parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are included in a significant risk area for tornadoes. The red area below indicates a 15% chance of a tornado within 25 miles of a given point. The black outline covering much of that same area indicates an enhanced threat of strong tornadoes (EF2+)
Local TV stations, Emergency management officials, and storm spotters plan for an active evening with a potential tornado outbreak.
3:58 AM Sunday January 22nd - Storm Prediction Center issues a public outlook communicating threat of a major severe weather outbreak including the possibility of tornadoes. Here is an excerpt from the bulletin:
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER IN NORMAN OK IS FORECASTING THE
DEVELOPMENT OF TORNADOES...WIDESPREAD DAMAGING WINDS...AND HAIL OVER
PARTS OF THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI...LOWER OHIO...AND TENNESSEE VALLEYS
LATE THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH EARLY MONDAY.
THE AREAS MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE THIS ACTIVITY INCLUDE
NORTHERN AND CENTRAL ALABAMA
EASTERN AND SOUTHERN ARKANSAS
WESTERN AND CENTRAL KENTUCKY
NORTHERN AND CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI
WESTERN AND MIDDLE TENNESSEE
10:28 AM Sunday January 22nd - The Storm Prediction Center updates the severe weather outlook and expands the enhanced tornado risk to include more of Arkansas and Northern Alabama
5:20 PM Sunday January 22nd - A Tornado Watch is issued for parts of Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi. This is designated as a Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) tornado watch with a 90% of 2 or more tornadoes within the watch area and a 60% of at least 1 EF2+ tornado. Local TV stations put a crawl over programming to let viewers know about the watch. Watch information is also distributed via media web sites, radio and social media including Facebook and Twitter. Storm spotters are active and positioning themselves ahead of the storms.
6:35 PM Sunday - National Weather Service Little Rock issues first of 12 tornado warnings. Local TV Stations begin on air coverage. Warning information is also distributed via NOAA Weather Radio, internet, mobile phone text alerts and social media. Storm spotters intercept storms reporting back information to the NWS and local media
7:03 PM Sunday - NWS Little Rock issues tornado warning that includes Fordyce, AR indicating a possible tornado. Below is the warning text.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LITTLE ROCK HAS ISSUED A
* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN OUACHITA COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS...
SOUTHEASTERN DALLAS COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS...
SOUTHWESTERN CLEVELAND COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST ARKANSAS...
NORTHERN CALHOUN COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS...
* UNTIL 730 PM CST
* AT 659 PM CST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS SEVERE
STORM WAS LOCATED 5 MILES NORTHWEST OF HIGHLAND INDSTRL PK...OR 12
MILES NORTHEAST OF CAMDEN. DOPPLER RADAR SHOWED THIS SEVERE STORM
MOVING NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH. IN ADDITION TO THE TORNADO...THIS STORM
IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING LARGE DAMAGING HAIL UP TO GOLF BALL SIZE.
* LOCATIONS IN THE PATH OF THIS DANGEROUS STORM INCLUDE...
FORDYCE... TRI COUNTY LAKE... TIPTON...
THORNTON... HARLOW... ELLISVILLE...
BEARDEN... RAMSEY... NEW EDINBURG...
MILLVILLE... IVAN... HOPEVILLE...
HOLLY SPRINGS... HARMONY GROVE... EAGLE MILLS...
CHAMBERSVILLE... AMY... VELIE...
TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME...A VEHICLE OR
OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS
7:26 PM Sunday FIRST verified tornado report of the night. Tornado reported near Fordyce, AR with homes damaged. NO INJURIES reported. Tornado later rated as EF2
7:30 PM Sunday. Tornado Watch issued for parts of MO, KY, IL and IN. SPC indicates 70% of at least 10 severe wind events, with a 50% of winds exceeding hurricane force in at least one instance.
8:11 PM Sunday - National Weather Service in Memphis issues first of 13 tornado warnings
10:37 PM Sunday - National Weather Service in Paducah issues first of 3 tornado warnings. This is in addition to 17 severe thunderstorm warnings mainly for damaging straight line winds.
11:00 PM Sunday - Storm Prediction Center issues a Tornado Watch covering large areas of Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, including the Birmingham area through 6 AM Monday morning.
11:54 PM Sunday - NWS Jackson issues first of 9 tornado warnings
Approx 12 AM Monday January 23rd - Birmingham TV stations begin special coverage of storms approaching
2:09 AM Monday - NWS Birmingham issues first of 16 tornado warnings
2:31 AM Monday - NWS Birmingham issues Tornado Warning including Tuscaloosa County
2:40 AM Monday - FIRST tornado report in Alabama from Tuscaloosa County
3:02 AM Monday - NWS Birmingham issues 3rd tornado warning, this one including Jefferson County in Alabama. This warning is communicated on TV, radio, Internet and NOAA weather radio. Note the warning includes the community of Oak Grove, which is later hit by a tornado.
* AT 257 AM CST...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAS TRACKING A
CONFIRMED TORNADO 7 MILES SOUTHWEST OF BANKHEAD LOCK AND DAM...OR
11 MILES NORTH OF HOLT. DOPPLER RADAR SHOWED THIS TORNADO MOVING
EAST AT 45 MPH. SEVERAL REPORTS OF DAMAGE HAVE BEEN
REPORTED...THIS IS A DANGEROUS SITUATION!
* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
FAIRFIELD...BIRMINGHAM...BANKHEAD LOCK AND DAM...BULL CITY...OAK
GROVE...SYLVAN SPRINGS...WEST JEFFERSON...QUINTON...MAYTOWN AND
3:26 AM Monday - Community of Oak Grove hit by tornado, where 1 person is killed
3:32 AM Monday - NWS Birmingham issues 6th tornado warning for storm with possible tornado and history of producing damage on the West of Birmingham. This is the same storm that produced the tornado in Oak Grove. The warning includes the Birmingham area and the communities of Fultondale, Clay, Trussville and Center Point through 4:30 AM
* AT 326 AM CST...LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE PUBLIC HAVE REPORTED
DAMAGE FROM A POSSIBLE TORNADO. THIS THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED NEAR
OAK GROVE...OR 9 MILES NORTHWEST OF HUEYTOWN...MOVING EAST AT 45 MPH.
* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
INTERSTATE 65 EXIT NUMBERS 260 THROUGH 275...
INTERSTATE 459 EXIT NUMBERS 27 THROUGH 33...
US 78 EXIT NUMBER 91...
INTERSTATE 20 EXIT NUMBERS 120 THROUGH 156...
INTERSTATE 59 EXIT NUMBERS 130 THROUGH 156...
TORNADOES ARE DIFFICULT TO SEE AND CONFIRM AT NIGHT. TAKE COVER NOW.
3:54 AM Monday - Tornado reported near Fultondale, Al
4:10 AM Monday - EF3 Tornado hits Clay and Center Point Alabama- NEARLY 40 MINUTES AFTER WARNING IS ISSUED
4:15 AM Monday - NWS Birmingham issues TORNADO EMERGENCY after confirmed report of large tornado
* AT 412 AM CST...STORM SPOTTERS AND THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
WERE TRACKING A LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO NEAR CLAY...
OR NEAR TRUSSVILLE. DOPPLER RADAR SHOWED THIS TORNADO MOVING
NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH.
THIS IS A TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR CLAY...SPRINGVILLE...ARGO...TAKE
* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
JACKSONVILLE...HOKES BLUFF...MARGARET...BRANCHVILLE AND ASHVILLE.
4 AM - 7 AM Monday - Tornado reports continue across Alabama
7:42 AM Monday - NWS Birmingham issues last of 16 tornado warnings for the night.
Personally, I would like to thank The Storm Prediction Center, the employees of the local National Weather Service offices, broadcast meteorologists, storm spotters, bloggers and all the support staff across the Southeast and Mid-South regions for their work and dedication leading up to and throughout the event. I am 100 percent convinced that based on all the damage that occurred, the timely warnings and information available to the public prevented numerous injuries and saved lives. I believe at least one national media outlet needs to give credit where credit is due, and apologize to all those it belittled.