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Are you interested in what happened during a recent event? Check out the report below.
 
Severe Weather Outbreak on January 21-22, 2017
 
A strong storm system aloft ("L") in the southern Plains encountered mild and unstable air along the Gulf Coast at 1200 am CST on 01/22/2017. The system triggered numerous thunderstorms and widespread severe weather.
In the picture: A strong storm system aloft ("L") in the southern Plains encountered mild and unstable air along the Gulf Coast at 1200 am CST on 01/22/2017. The system triggered numerous thunderstorms and widespread severe weather.
 

On the 18th anniversary of the largest tornado outbreak on record in Arkansas, severe weather was expected to be widespread on January 21st. An intense storm system was barreling toward the region from the southern Plains, with mild/unstable air increasing from the Gulf Coast.

 

The satellite showed clouds building as showers and thunderstorms increased in coverage during the afternoon and evening of 01/21/2017. Storms with hail were noted on the WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) across the central third of Arkansas, with wind producing storms farther south.
Satellite at 515 pm CST (01/21)  |  Satellite at 715 pm CST (01/21)
Satellite at 915 pm CST (01/21)  |  Radar at 830 pm CST (01/21)
In the pictures: The satellite showed clouds building as showers and thunderstorms increased in coverage during the afternoon and evening of 01/21/2017. Storms with hail were noted on the WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) across the central third of Arkansas, with wind producing storms farther south.
 

While it did become stormy, mainly across central and southern sections of the state, it was much worse for our neighbors to the south and east.

 

A WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) reflectivity image showed a hook echo on the southwest side of Hattiesburg, MS at 348 am CST on 01/21/2017. This is a classic feature associated with supercells (storms with rotating updrafts capable of producing tornadoes). In the same area, a storm relative velocity image indicated strong rotation.
Reflectivity at 348 am CST (01/21)  |  Storm Relative Velocity at 348 am CST (01/21)
More About Rotation
In the pictures: A WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) reflectivity image showed a hook echo on the southwest side of Hattiesburg, MS at 348 am CST on 01/21/2017. This is a classic feature associated with supercells (storms with rotating updrafts capable of producing tornadoes). In the same area, a storm relative velocity image indicated strong rotation.
 

During the predawn hours of the 21st, a destructive tornado (rated EF3) ripped through the south side of Hattiesburg, MS. Four people were killed. Before dawn the next morning, a similar tornado hit areas around Adel, GA. This resulted in eleven fatalities. Later in the day, the Storm Prediction Center issued a rare High Risk (the first since 2014) for severe weather in southern Georgia and northern Florida. A long track (71 miles) large wedge tornado slammed into Albany, GA, with four people losing their lives. In all, at least twenty people were killed during this event, making it the second deadliest January outbreak since 1950. In all of 2016, there were seventeen tornado related deaths.    

 

Tornado Fatality Alley

Much of the southeast United States, including Arkansas, is a part of "Tornado Fatality Alley", a term coined by Dr. Walter Ashley of Northern Illinois University. A study (in 2007) by Dr. Ashley showed a higher likelihood of killer tornadoes in this part of the country due to a couple of factors: (1) the highest percentage of manufactured/mobile homes compared with any other region east of the Continental Divide, and (2) a close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and a feed of warmth/moisture to sustain storms long after sunset.

 

There were numerous severe weather reports, including tornadoes, on January 20-22, 2017. The image is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
In the picture: There were numerous severe weather reports, including tornadoes, on January 20-22, 2017. The image is courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.
 

Here at home, there were at least three weak (rated EF0/EF1) tornadoes counted (the first tornadoes of 2017 in Arkansas) on the 21st. Tornado damage was confirmed 9 miles southwest of El Dorado (Union County) and 11 miles east-southeast of town. Mostly tree damage was found, with part of a roof peeled back on a mobile home. Another tornado tracked across fields just northwest of Hamburg (Ashley County), and caused no damage.

 

Link of Interest
How Tornadoes are Rated

 

Elsewhere, straight-line winds downed trees west of Warren (Bradley County), near Monticello (Drew County), at Hamburg and Montrose (both in Ashley County), and also at Lake Village (Chicot County). There was golf ball size hail a few miles east of Taylor (Columbia County), with quarter size hail around Welch (Montgomery County), Pearcy (Garland County), Huttig (Unon County), and north of Dierks (Howard County).

At North Little Rock (Pulaski), a record was set for the lowest pressure measured in January. The pressure dropped to 29.33 inches, which undercut the previous mark of 29.42 inches on January 18, 1982. Local records began in 1975.

 

Storm Reports
Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on January 21, 2017 (in red).
Submit a storm report.
There were several reports of hail and damaging winds in central and southern Arkansas on January 21, 2017. For a look at the reports, click here.
 
Link of Interest
Plot Reports
In the picture: Preliminary reports of severe weather in the Little Rock County Warning Area on January 21, 2017 (in red).