Tornadoes - December 2012


NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.


According to data from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, during December, there were 51 preliminary tornado reports. This is more than the 1991-2010 average of 24 for the month, and once the final tornado count is determined will likely rank among the ten most active Decembers in the 1950-present record. This ends a seven month stretch of below-average tornado activity for the nation. Nearly all of the tornadoes during the month occurred across the Gulf Coast states and the Southeast. There were no reported tornado-related fatalities during December. The last tornado-related fatality in the U.S. occurred on June 24th and December 31st was the 190th consecutive day without a tornado-related fatality. According to analysis by the Storm Prediction Center, the longest consecutive day stretch with no tornado fatalities in the 1950-present official record was 197 days between October 15th, 1986 and February 28th, 1987. Longer periods without tornado fatalities have occurred prior to 1950, but inconsistent observing practices make comparisons to current data difficult.

December 25 2012 Tornadoes
25 December Tornadoes
Source: SPC

On Christmas Day, a strong storm system moved through the center of the country, bringing heavy snow from the Southern Plains into the Northeast and tornadoes and severe weather to the Gulf Coast and Southeast. There were 28 confirmed tornadoes on December 25th from Texas to Alabama and one confirmed tornado in North Carolina on the 26th. The 28 tornadoes on the 25th marked the largest Christmas Day outbreak in the 1950-present record and the fourth most active December tornado day. An EF-3 tornado tracked over 60 miles through southern Mississippi destroying 22 homes and injuring eight people. A second, short-lived EF-3 tornado was confirmed in Pennington, Texas. There were no tornado-related fatalities during the outbreak, although there were four fatalities blamed on other impacts from the severe weather.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Tornadoes for December 2012, published online January 2013, retrieved on October 25, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/tornadoes/2012/12.