Following last weekend’s severe weather outbreak, January 2017 is already the deadliest for tornadoes in any January since 1969.
The number of tornado-related deaths in those two days also exceeds what was seen in all of 2016.
A preliminary 19 people were killed by tornadoes Saturday and Sunday – 15 in south Georgia and four in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
No other January has had more tornado deaths since 1969, when 32 were killed. More recently, 18 fatalities were caused by tornadoes in January 1999, which 2017 now exceeded.
There was an additional storm death near Lake City, Florida, on Sunday, which is currently not blamed on a tornado, but rather strong thunderstorm winds downing a tree on a house.
2017 already deadlier than last year
In just two days this month, the death toll from tornadoes in 2017 topped what was seen all of last year.
2016, a total of 17 people were killed by tornadoes during the entire calendar year, a below-average year for tornado deaths. That was the second-fewest tornado deaths in a year on record dating to 1940.
For comparison, an average of 70 tornado-related deaths have occurred annually from 1986 to 2015.
The tornadoes that occurred over the weekend were right in the southern U.S. corridor where they are most likely during January when atmospheric conditions come together: The Tornado Alley.
Many of the tornado deaths Saturday and Sunday occurred in a situation meteorologists fear most – tornadoes that develop overnight or early in the morning when most are asleep. All four deaths in Hattiesburg and 12 of the 15 deaths in southern Georgia happened when tornadoes struck in the early-morning hours well before sunrise.
When there is a severe weather threat, always be sure to have a way to get warning information to alert you of any danger headed your way. And for any cases get prepared!