Weather

2017 off to a devastating start for tornadoes across U.S.

A vehicle sits in a debris field in the aftermath of a tornado in Adel, Ga., in January.
A vehicle sits in a debris field in the aftermath of a tornado in Adel, Ga., in January. Associated Press

After several sleepy years for tornadoes, 2017 is showing signs that it could be different.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center has logged preliminary reports of 138 tornadoes around the U.S. in January. That’s more than 100 above the national average for January.

More significantly, three tornadoes last month killed 20 people — making 2017 the second-deadliest January on record since reliable data began being collected in 1950. Only 1969, with 32 deaths, had more, according to Patrick Marsh, warning coordination meteorologist for the SPC.

One of the deadly tornadoes touched down on Jan. 21, and the other two developed the next day.

The first killer tornado struck at 3:50 a.m. on Jan. 21 in Mississippi, killing four.

Early the next morning, a tornado developed in Georgia at about 2:30 a.m., killing 11 people across three counties. About 12 hours later, another deadly tornado touched down northwest of the first track, killing five more people.

All of the killer tornadoes were rated EF-3, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center, with winds between 136 and 165 miles an hour.

Of those who died, 15 lived in mobile homes and four in houses.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger

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