YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – While the weather in 2023 has been relatively tame in the Valley, this is certainly not the case for the rest of the United States. There have been multiple large storm systems that have brought flooding rains, heavy snow and mudslides to the western United States.
Additionally, there have been numerous severe weather outbreaks in the southeastern United States this January. In fact, this January has been extremely active from a severe weather standpoint compared to the same month throughout history.
Exactly how many tornado reports have there been? Is it possible that January 2023 will feature the most January tornadoes of all time? WKBN dug into the data to see how January 2023 stacks up.
How many tornadoes have there been in January 2023?
First, let’s take a look at how many tornadoes have been reported in January 2023.
It is important to keep in mind that these tornado reports are preliminary. The National Weather Service and the Storm Prediction Center will go back through tornado reports at the end of the year to filter out tornado reports that are redundant or false.
Here is a current look at the preliminary tornado reports through January 16:
Through January 16, 2023, there have been a total of 119 tornadoes reported in the United States. The graph shows the average cumulative tornado count in the United States throughout the year, as well as the cumulative tornado counts from 2005-2022. The only two years in recent history that compare to this January were 2008 and 2017.
A large majority of these tornado reports occurred last Thursday, January, 12 when there were 60 tornado reports across the southeastern United States. This tornado outbreak included an EF-2 tornado that ripped through the historic town of Selma, Alabama.
Another way to look at the data is to analyze a 10-year trend of tornadoes in a year and to view the average amount of tornadoes that occurred every day throughout the year. The graph below shows the average number of cumulative tornadoes for an entire year based on the years 2005-2015. The grey bars in the background are the average number of tornadoes recorded daily based on this same time period.
This graph is revealing. The average number of cumulative tornadoes based on the 10-year average for January 16 is 28 tornadoes. Therefore, January of 2023 is above average by 91 tornadoes for this time of year. You will also notice that the January 12 outbreak shows up well on this graph with daily tornado counts well above average.
The average number of tornadoes reported in January per year is 37. Thus, if there were no more tornadoes for the rest of January, this month will still finish with 82 tornadoes above average!
How does January 2023 compare to January 1999?
The most tornadoes ever recorded in the month of January was in the year 1999 when 216 tornadoes were recorded. Over half of these tornadoes occurred between January 21 and January 23, when there were 128 confirmed tornadoes throughout parts of the southeast and Midwest.
This tornado outbreak still leads the category for most tornadoes ever produced during a January outbreak. There would need to be 97 more reported tornadoes through the rest of this month to tie the record set in 1999.
However, one of the impressive statistics for this year is that the preliminary tornado reports for the month of January 2023 are off to one of, if not the fastest start of all time. The next graph takes the maximum tornado counts per day in history (regardless of the year) and adds them cumulatively over the course of a year.
This plot also shows the tornado counts for 2023 through January 16, adjusted for inflation. This graph attempts to account for false or redundant tornado reports.
If you take the maximum number of tornadoes reported throughout the history of January 1-16, the total number of cumulative tornadoes is 81. Adjusting for inflation, the number of tornadoes reported in 2023 is 101, which would mean this is the most tornadoes ever reported through the first half of January.
There are more chances for severe weather this week, so this number will likely continue to increase over the next few days.