Many Mississippi tornadoes occur in November

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2017

By Skip Rigney

November is the second most active month for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Deep South. Even though this week’s weather is forecast to be quiet and generally pleasant, it’s worth a reminder that later this month and into December we could have the threat of dangerous storms.

According to statistics compiled by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Jackson, there are two peak months for tornadoes in Mississippi.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

More tornadoes have occurred in April in the state than any other month with a total of 337 April tornadoes over the years from 1950 through 2016. That’s in line with the common perception that springtime is peak tornado season.

Perhaps more surprisingly, November had the second highest number of tornadoes in Mississippi with 249 identified over the same 66-year period.

November is an active month for tornadoes for the same reason February through April are. Warm, moist air clashes with cold air masses. When you add to the situation strong winds that change direction with height, you can get the rising, spinning air necessary for tornado formation.

One particularly deadly example of late fall severe weather occurred on November 21-22, 1992. Ninety-four tornadoes spun across 13 states from Texas eastward and northward to the Carolinas and Ohio.

The most deadly twisters hit Mississippi where 15 people were killed. One of the strongest, an F-4 on the zero to five point Fujita Scale used to rank tornado intensity, moved through Rankin County near the cities of Florence and Brandon. Ten people died in Rankin County alone.

The southernmost tornado in the state during the outbreak blew through Lincoln County and the town of Brookhaven.

The most recent November tornado to hit Pearl River County occurred on November 21, 1997 when an F-1 cut a swath four miles long near Nicholson.

Here in the extreme southern part of the state, a significant threat of severe weather can extend into December. One of the most severe tornadoes to touch down in Pearl River County occurred on Christmas Day in 2012 when an EF-3 slashed from west to east across the central part of the county.

EF-3 refers to a category on the EF-0 through EF-5 Enhanced Fujita Scale, which is a revised version of  the original Fujita scale. Meteorologists and engineers began using the EF-scale in 2007.

Fortunately, we shouldn’t have any severe weather to worry about this week. A high pressure system is forecast to dominate our weather through Friday.

The next cold front is predicted to arrive on Saturday. A few showers may form near the front. However, most of the energy in the upper atmosphere needed to produce severe storms is predicted to stay well to our north in the Midwestern states.

Behind the front, Sunday and Monday are forecast to be much cooler.

Our next chance of potentially severe weather looks to be sometime in the middle of Thanksgiving week across the Deep South. That’s ahead of what will likely be the strongest cold front so far this fall.

The chances of a cold Thanksgiving appear to be increasing.