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As November comes to a close in Alabama, so does tornado activity


The weather may be turning colder in Alabama, but the state is still dealing with tornado season. The National Weather Service in Birmingham states November is the third most active month for tornadoes for the Yellowhammer State. It trails behind only the months of April and March.

The weather service said there have been at least four confirmed tornados in the state each November since 1950. The reason for the uptick in twisters during this time of year is due to the state experiencing a secondary severe weather season.

Jason Holmes is a meteorologist at the NWS in Birmingham. He said there are two peaks in the tornado season. One is in the springtime, and the other one is in the fall. Holmes said November conditions are favorable for severe weather.

“You're going to need moisture. You're going to need strong winds, particularly off the off the surface upon the atmosphere,” he explained. “We also look for wind shear, which is changing wind directions. As these storms actually rotate and produce that funnel cloud, and then as that funnel reaches down… if once it touches the surface, that becomes a tornado.”

Holmes said the mission of the weather service is to protect life and property. The NWS reminds Alabamians to be prepared and have access to ways to receive information in the event of serve weather.

“Getting caught off guard in the past has really been a major problem, but technology has come a long way to learn the warnings,” he said.

Forecasters continue to push for Alabamians to have to ways to receive weather alerts, especially during the overnight hours. This can be done through the use of battery-operated weather radio or a cell phone.

“The technology… [gives] the public time to take cover, even if it is just a few minutes,” Holmes said. “That's why time is of the essence. You need to have your severe weather plan already drawn up, and then make sure that all your family knows what to do and where to go.”

In the event of getting caught in severe weather, experts say it’s best to the lowest level of a building with a room without windows. Holmes said that’s because windows easily break and can cause flying debris when winds pick up.

“Going close to the ground, the wind speeds are lower and near the ground surface,” he explained. “Get as many walls between you and the outside as possible, so that you have a better chance of survival,” he continued. “We’ve seen, particularly in the larger tornado events, a lot of times the outer walls will be knocked down from a strong tornado.”

Holmes said now is the time to gather up or restock emergency supply kits and brush up on safety plans to be prepared. He said this will help in the event of severe weather.

FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security recommend keeping a check list and supplies on hand in the event of an emergency or disaster. A battery-powered radio, first-aid kit, flashlight, maps, food, water and sanitation supplies are all recommended for weather emergency kits. More information on suggestions can be found here.


Ella Grossomanides is a student intern in the Alabama Public Radio newsroom.
Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
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