|Active:||January 26-28, 2020|
|Duration of tornado outbreak1:||1 day, 14 hours, 54 minutes|
|Maximum rated tornado2:||EF5 tornado|
|Highest winds|| 215 mph (346 km/h) |
(Franklin, AL EF5 on January 27)
|Tornadoes confirmed:|| 248 |
(Record for winter outbreak)
|Damage:||$15.7 billion (2020 USD) (Estimated)|
|Fatalities:||1,069, 8,000+ injuries|
|Areas affected:||Southern United States, Eastern United States|
1Time from first tornado to last tornado
In total, 1,102 people were killed as a result of the outbreak as well as over 8,000 injured. Other fatalities have occurred due to other thunderstorm-related events such as straight-line winds, hail, flash flooding or lightning.
The tornado outbreak shattered multiple records, including the most tornadoes in a winter outbreak at 248 tornadoes confirmed. This beat the previous record of 127 from the January 21–23, 1999 tornado outbreak. It scattered the record for being the deadliest January outbreak with 1,102 fatalities, over exceeding the previous record of 32 set in the 1969 Hazlehurst tornado outbreak. Over 450 preliminary local storm reports were received for tornadoes over four days, including 234 on January 27 alone. The five EF5 tornadoes that occurred during this outbreak are the only to have officially received such rating during the month of January in the United States. This event was one of the costliest tornado outbreaks and one of the costliest natural disasters in United States history (even after adjustments for inflation), with estimated total damages of $15.7 billion (2020 USD).
List of tornadoes in the Tornado Outbreak of January 26-28
Confirmed tornadoes by Enhanced Fujita rating
| Confirmed |
| Confirmed |
| Confirmed |
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|Only tornado-related deaths are included|
|State/Province||Number of Tornadoes|
|Based on touchdown location|
This unusual outbreak was caused by a robust upper-level trough that developed in eastern Oklahoma on January 26. An extratropical cyclone developed ahead of this upper-level trough in western Missouri, which steadily moved northeast. The storm mode on January 26 was predicted to include a moderate possibility of discrete tornadic supercells developing during the early afternoon and lasting well into the evening, eventually transitioning into a mesoscale convective complex, shifting the threat from tornadoes to damaging winds and hail during the early nighttime hours of January 27.
As the storm system moved eastward toward the Ohio, Mississippi, and Tennessee River Valleys on January 27, a very powerful 90 - 115 knot mid-level jet stream moved into the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys behind the trough and created strong upper-level wind shear, along with a low pressure center moving quickly northeastward across those areas on January 27. Due to exceptionally unseasonably warm temperatures in the South, some of which reached the mid 80°F's, combined with CAPE values that were estimated to be in the range of 2000–3000 J/kg across southern Mississippi and southern Alabama, a broad area was highly unstable, and extremely favorable for cyclic supercells to occur throughout the day, producing long-tracked tornadoes beginning during the late morning hours of January 27, and into the early morning hours of January 28. These conditions southeast of the Appalachian Mountains remained favorable for long-tracked tornadoes ahead of the cold front which continued to push east towards the Eastern United States.
There was a total of 38 severe weather watches that were issued by the Storm Prediction Center over those 2 days in the outbreak area. This included 28 tornado watches - 5 of which were Particularly Dangerous Situation watches.
An area of favorable conditions for severe storms was being monitored by the NWS which maintained the possibly for supercell storms to form from the eastern Red River Valley down to southeastern Texas during the afternoon through the late evening hours. The SPC issued a moderate risk of severe weather, centered over eastern Texas into extreme western Louisiana. By the early afternoon, tornado watches had been issued, stretching from the Oklahoma/Texas border, down to San Antonio, Texas. Soon after, tornadoes were reported in Texas, some which caused significant to violent damage across the state. As the evening approached, the storm transitioned into a mesoscale convective complex, with a few isolated tornadoes and extreme wind damage across eastern Texas and western Louisiana. As the cold front swept through central Texas and Oklahoma, another line of storms developed, producing a wide swath of damage in areas already affected from the previous line of storms. The derecho consistently produced winds at 70 miles per hour from Texas into western Louisiana, and from Oklahoma into Arkansas. One weather station in College Station, Texas recorded a wind gust of 97 miles per hour. A total of 57 tornadoes were confirmed on the 26th.
A broad area of instability persisted in the southeastern United States as expected, as temperatures lingered in the upper 70°F's with dew points in the high 60°F's. A high risk for severe storms was issued for the entire day, as storms were expected to produce long-tracked tornadoes, and multiple cyclic supercells. An outflow boundary caused by the previous evenings derecho pushed through triggering early morning supercells in Louisiana and Arkansas. These supercells would prove persistent, as some would last for the rest of the day, sweeping through the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys, reaching areas as far east as Virginia and Georgia in the Appalachian regions.
Wind shear and low-level moisture continued to persist as a second round of supercells fired up just ahead of the cold front as it swept through Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in the afternoon hours. These supercells would track east throughout the rest of the day and into the following day, passing over areas previously affected by the first round of supercells earlier in the day. A total of 165 tornadoes were confirmed on the 27th.
As the supercells lasted into the early morning hours, a few tornadoes, some violent, were spawned between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Coast across Georgia and the Carolinas. The storms finally morphed into a strong line, pushing east off the shore into the Atlantic Ocean where some isolated areas of wind damage were reported. A total of 26 tornadoes were confirmed on the 28th.
Venus/Cedar Hill, Texas
Main article: 2020 Venus/Cedar Hill, Texas Tornado (Dixie)
On the afternoon of Sunday, January 26, 2020, a large violent EF4 tornado tore across areas in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas region, with peak winds estimated at 180 mph, killing 16 people and injuring 57 others. The tornado was part of a larger weather system that had produced several other tornadoes across the Southern and Eastern U.S. between January 26-28.
The tornado touched down just east of Brazos Point at 20:53 UTC, and stayed on the ground for 52 minutes over a 64-mile path, crossing directly through the town of Venus, and heavily affecting the Dallas suburbs of Cedar Hill and DeSoto before lifting in Balch Springs. The tornado was 1 mile wide at its peak. This is the first violent tornado to affect the Dallas metro area since 2015, when an EF4 tornado ripped through Rowlett killing ten people on December 26. The same storm would also go on to produce the Terrell tornado, killing eight people.
Main article: 2020 Katy-Cypress-Egypt, Texas Tornado (Dixie)
On the afternoon of Sunday, January 26, 2020, a large violent EF4 tornado ripped across areas in and around the Houston, Texas area, with peak winds estimated at 190 mph, killing 23 people and injuring 77 others. The tornado was part of a larger weather system that had produced several other tornadoes across the Southern and Eastern U.S. between January 26-28.
The tornado touched down just east of Orchard at 21:45 UTC, and stayed on the ground for 1 hour and 38 minutes over a 57-mile path, destroying portions of the Houston suburbs of Katy, Cypress, and Egypt, before lifting in Conroe. The tornado was 3/4 of a mile wide at its peak. This is only the third violent tornado to affect the Houston metro area since reliable records were kept. The first two being, a tornado spawned by Hurricane Carla in Galveston in 1961, and another tornado from November 21, 1992, which affected the northeast suburbs of Houston.
Main article: 2020 Terrell, Texas Tornado (Dixie)
On the afternoon of Sunday, January 26, 2020, an EF3 tornado struck the city of Terrell, Texas with peak winds estimated at 165 mph, killing 8 people and injuring 21 others. The tornado was part of a larger weather system that had produced several other tornadoes across the Southern and Eastern U.S. between January 26-28.
The tornado touched down just northeast of Talty at 22:09 UTC, and stayed on the ground for 32 minutes over a 35-mile path, touching down and tracking through the city of Terrell, heavily affecting the downtown before passing through rural areas to the northeast, and lifting near Lone Oak. The tornado was just over 1/3 of a mile wide at its peak. This storm had previously spawned the Venus/Cedar Hill EF4 tornado.
Tyler-White Oak-Judson, Texas
Main article: 2020 Tyler-White Oak-Judson, Texas Tornado (Dixie)
On the evening of Sunday, January 26, 2020, an EF3 tornado carved through the city of Tyler, Texas, as well as areas around Longview, Texas, with peak winds estimated at 165 mph, killing 12 people and injuring 20 others. The tornado was part of a larger weather system that had produced several other tornadoes across the Southern and Eastern U.S. between January 26-28.
The tornado touched down in Tyler at 00:11 UTC, and stayed on the ground for 1 hour and 13 minutes over a 64-mile path, sweeping through parts of Tyler, White Oak, Judson, and surrounding areas before lifting just north of Jefferson. The tornado was just under 3/4 of a mile wide at its peak. While the tornado was not as violent as other tornadoes which occurred during the outbreak, the death toll was higher likely due to it occurring in the night hours.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Main article: 2020 Hot Springs, Arkansas Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Monroe, Louisiana Tornado (Dixie)
Lake Providence, Louisiana/Aberdeen, Mississippi
Main article: 2020 Hattiesburg, Mississippi Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Madison, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Huntsville, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Houston/Amory, Mississippi Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Montgomery-Franklin-Auburn, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Columbus/Milledgeville, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)
Chapel Hill/Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Main article: 2020 Chapel Hill/Murfreesboro, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Birmingham, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)
Bridgeport, Alabama/Chattanooga, Tennessee
Cumberland Mountains, Tennessee/Virginia
Main article: 2020 Cumberland Mountains Tornado (Dixie)
Meridian, Mississippi-Demopolis-Marion, Alabama
Loudon-Lenoir City-Farragut, Tennessee
Main article: 2020 Albertville/Crossville, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Woodstock, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)
Eufaula, Alabama/Americus, Georgia
Main article: 2020 Eufaula, Alabama/Americus, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)
Main article: 2020 Kingsport, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)
Seneca-Clemson-Powdersville, South Carolina
Main article: 2020 Augusta, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)
Charleston, South Carolina
Main article: 2020 Charleston, South Carolina Tornado (Dixie)
- List of North American tornadoes and tornado outbreaks
- List of F5 and EF5 tornadoes
- Tornado outbreak of January 21–23, 1999
- 1969 Hazlehurst tornado outbreak
- 2011 Super Outbreak
- 1974 Super Outbreak
- 1932 Deep South tornado outbreak