How to Prepare for Tornadoes in Alabama

March 9, 2023

tornadoes in Alabama

Alabama ranks among the most tornado-prone states in the country. In 2022, 98 tornadoes were recorded in the state, the second-highest number of confirmed twisters in a given year.

In addition to the state’s high tornado toll, studies have shown that Alabama’s population of low-income and minority residents are also more vulnerable to storm damage.

What is a Tornado?

A tornado is a violent weather event that can destroy buildings, cars and even entire towns. It's one of the most devastating types of storms and can be found anywhere in the world.

Tornadoes are particularly dangerous in the Deep South and Gulf Coast states like Alabama. In fact, the number of tornadoes in the United States has increased significantly over the last few years.

If you see a tornado watch issued, it means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form over a prolonged period. Not everyone in the watch will see severe weather or a tornado, but it's important to be aware of what's happening and prepare for it if you do.

What Causes Tornadoes?

There are several factors that determine the frequency and intensity of tornadoes in Alabama. These factors include storm tracks and weather conditions.

Tornadoes are common during the winter and early spring when thunderstorms form in warm, moist air ahead of an eastward-moving cold front. These systems often produce large hail, strong winds and tornadoes.

The most severe twisters are classified as EF-2 and EF-3 tornadoes. They can cause a lot of damage, such as uprooting trees and tearing off roofs.

In Alabama, Jefferson, Mobile, Baldwin, Cullman, Madison, Tuscaloosa, and Marshall counties experience the most tornadoes each year. These counties are more susceptible to tornadoes than others because they’re densely populated and tend to have more favorable weather patterns.

How Do Tornadoes Form?

Tornadoes occur when a thunderstorm combines wet stormy instability with wind shear, which is a difference in wind speed and direction at different altitudes.

The US is one of the few places in the world where moist, tropical air (the Gulf of Mexico) is located near a hot and dry desert (the American Southwest). That combination creates a lot of unstable air that's ripe for tornadoes to form.

Alabama is known as "Tornado Alley" - and it's one of the deadliest tornado areas in the country. Historically, the Yellowhammer State has experienced a higher number of tornado fatalities than any other state.

What Are the Signs of a Tornado?

There are a few things that you can look out for when a tornado is likely to form. They include rotating, funnel-shaped clouds; low-lying clouds of debris; large hail; a dark or green-colored sky; and a loud roar that sounds like a freight train.

Tornadoes have killed and injured countless people in Alabama, so it is important to know what to do when one is near you. You should stay inside your home and in a safe room.

If you are outside, move to a low spot and lie down covering your head. This is the best way to protect yourself from the severe winds of a tornado.

How to Prepare for a Tornado

Tornadoes are dangerous, and they can cause serious injury or even death. That’s why it’s important to prepare for them ahead of time.

Start by creating a family tornado plan. It involves monitoring storm alerts, ensuring that everyone in the home knows where to go for shelter, and having an emergency kit on hand.

The safest place to shelter during a tornado is in a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of your house or other sturdy building. Avoid windows, flat roofs, and outside doors that can become blown away from the force of a tornado’s wind.


Tornado Dave is the best place to learn more about severe weather and climate science. He's a veritable tornado of information, and he loves nothing more than educating others about the importance of being prepared for extreme weather events. Make sure to check in with Tornado Dave often, as he's always updating his blog with the latest news and information!
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