May is no stranger to tornadoes in Alabama, but my prediction is that we are winding down our tornado season this year. 2023 has been front loaded with tornado producing storms nation-wide. That said, we should never become complacent to active weather as history has proven, each month has a recorded tornado in Alabama
Specifically in 2023 Alabama has had 54 tornadoes since January 1. This exceeds the 50 year average of annual tornado activity, whereby, 1973-2022 calculates the annual tornado occurrence at 43 per year. Note, we’re not even into May and have surpassed that number.
It has been a little bit of an interesting year in that January has held to most confirmed tornadoes thus far in 2023 (as of May 1, 2023). January usually ranks 7th in terms of months with the most Tornadoes. Not uncommon, February saw zero confirmed tornadoes, but that did mean the month was void of storms. March and April, combined, still had less than all of January.
Looking back at all the tornado warned storms this year, there are some distinct locations as to where these severe storms ended up across Alabama. There is a clear cluster of warnings issued just south of the I-20 corridor form there about 90 miles south to Northern Clark and Dallas county. That cluster reached state line to state line.
Then, there was another clear swath of storm in north Alabama, and broad, but still apparent group of storms from Mobile bay to the Wiregrass.
Note that the tornado warnings do not indicate that every polygon had a confirmed tornado, there were all radar indicated tornadoes. Plus, many of the warnings propagated along a moving storm so there may severe warnings issued for the same Tornado, like the Selma tornado that started in Dallas county, lifted, and touched back in Autauga county ending in Chambers county. That one tornado, stretching over 70 miles, had numerous warnings issued along the way.
Looking at the damage paths, the frequency of storms across central Alabama left hundreds of miles of total damage this year between Tuscaloosa and Demopolis and east from Alex City to Montgomery.
May still tends to be a robust weather month, but our long range models show a less volatile airmass over Alabama as we trend cooler for the next week before starting to see a gradual, more steady warm up by the end of the month.