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Tornado Outbreak of January 26-28, 2020 (Dixie)
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The storm system responsible for the historic winter tornado outbreak on January 27.
Type: Unknown
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)
Injuries: Unknown
Fatalities: 1,069, 8,000+ injuries
Areas affected: Southern United States, Eastern United States

1Time from first tornado to last tornado
2Most severe tornado damage; see wikipedia:Enhanced Fujita scale

The Tornado Outbreak of January 26-28, 2020, also known as the 2020 Super Outbreak and The Great Storm of 2020, was one of the largest, costliest, and deadliest tornado outbreaks ever documented in the United States, occurring in the Southeastern United States. The event impacted the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. In total, 248 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in 11 states in the Southeastern United States. Widespread and destructive tornadoes occurred on each day of the outbreak, with January 27 being the most prolific day with 165 tornadoes being recorded. Five of the tornadoes during the outbreak were destructive enough to be rated EF5, which is the highest ranking possible on the Enhanced Fujita scale; typically these tornadoes are only recorded about once each year or less, and during the spring and early summer months.

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, hailflash 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

See also: List of tornadoes in the Tornado Outbreak of January 26-28 (Dixie)

Confirmed tornadoes by  Enhanced Fujita rating

Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
EF0
Confirmed
EF1
Confirmed
EF2
Confirmed
EF3
Confirmed
EF4
Confirmed
EF5
248 74 69 48 28 24 5



Meteorological synopsis

Outbreak death toll
State/Province Fatalities
Alabama 332
Arkansas 33
Georgia 278
Kentucky 6
Louisiana 32
Mississippi 106
South Carolina 122
Tennessee 112
Texas 81
Totals 1,102
Only tornado-related deaths are included
Tornado count by state
State/Province Number of Tornadoes
Alabama 62
Arkansas 14
Georgia 31
Kentucky 2
Louisiana 14
Mississippi 25
North Carolina 3
South Carolina 9
Tennessee 35
Texas 51
Virginia 2
Totals 248
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

January 26

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.

January 27

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.

January 28

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.

Notable tornadoes

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.

Katy-Cypress-Egypt, Texas

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.

Terrell, Texas

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)

Monroe, Louisiana

Main article: 2020 Monroe, Louisiana Tornado (Dixie)

Lake Providence, Louisiana/Aberdeen, Mississippi

Main article: 2020 Lake Providence, Louisiana/Aberdeen, Mississippi Tornado (Dixie)

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Main article: 2020 Hattiesburg, Mississippi Tornado (Dixie)

Madison, Alabama

Main article: 2020 Madison, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)

Huntsville, Alabama

Main article: 2020 Huntsville, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)

Lawrenceburg/Campbellsville, Tennessee

Main article: 2020 Lawrenceburg/Campbellsville, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)

Houston/Amory, Mississippi

Main article: 2020 Houston/Amory, Mississippi Tornado (Dixie)

Montgomery-Franklin-Auburn, Alabama

Main article: 2020 Montgomery-Franklin-Auburn, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)

Columbus/Milledgeville, Georgia

Main article: 2020 Columbus/Milledgeville, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)

Chapel Hill/Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Main article: 2020 Chapel Hill/Murfreesboro, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)

Birmingham, Alabama

Main article: 2020 Birmingham, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)

Bridgeport, Alabama/Chattanooga, Tennessee

Main article: 2020 Bridgeport, Alabama/Chattanooga, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)

Cumberland Mountains, Tennessee/Virginia

Main article: 2020 Cumberland Mountains Tornado (Dixie)

Meridian, Mississippi-Demopolis-Marion, Alabama

Main article: 2020 Meridian, Mississippi-Demopolis-Marion, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)

Loudon-Lenoir City-Farragut, Tennessee

Main article: 2020 Loudon-Lenoir City-Farragut, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)

Albertville/Crossville, Alabama

Main article: 2020 Albertville/Crossville, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)

Woodstock, Georgia

Main article: 2020 Woodstock, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)

Eufaula, Alabama/Americus, Georgia

Main article: 2020 Eufaula, Alabama/Americus, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)

Kingsport, Tennessee

Main article: 2020 Kingsport, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)

Seneca-Clemson-Powdersville, South Carolina

Main article: 2020 Seneca-Clemson-Powdersville, South Carolina Tornado (Dixie)

Augusta, Georgia

Main article: 2020 Augusta, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)

Charleston, South Carolina

Main article: 2020 Charleston, South Carolina Tornado (Dixie)

Non-tornadic effects

Aftermath

See also


Tornado Outbreak of January 26-28, 2020 (Dixie)
2020 Albertville/Crossville, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)2020 Augusta, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)2020 Birmingham, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)2020 Bridgeport, Alabama/Chattanooga, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)2020 Chapel Hill/Murfreesboro, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)2020 Charleston, South Carolina Tornado (Dixie)2020 Columbus/Milledgeville, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)2020 Cumberland Mountains Tornado (Dixie)2020 Eufaula, Alabama/Americus, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)2020 Hattiesburg, Mississippi Tornado (Dixie)2020 Hot Springs, Arkansas Tornado (Dixie)2020 Houston/Amory, Mississippi Tornado (Dixie)2020 Huntsville, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)2020 Katy-Cypress-Egypt, Texas Tornado (Dixie)2020 Kingsport, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)2020 Lake Providence, Louisiana/Aberdeen, Mississippi Tornado (Dixie)2020 Lawrenceburg/Campbellsville, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)2020 Loudon-Lenoir City-Farragut, Tennessee Tornado (Dixie)2020 Madison, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)2020 Meridian, Mississippi-Demopolis-Marion, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)2020 Monroe, Louisiana Tornado (Dixie)2020 Montgomery-Franklin-Auburn, Alabama Tornado (Dixie)2020 Seneca-Clemson-Powdersville, South Carolina Tornado (Dixie)2020 Terrell, Texas Tornado (Dixie)2020 Tyler-White Oak-Judson, Texas Tornado (Dixie)2020 Venus/Cedar Hill, Texas Tornado (Dixie)2020 Woodstock, Georgia Tornado (Dixie)
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