Tornadoes don't happen in January, but ...

Todd G. Higdon

Tornadoes usually don’t occur in January, according to Brian Barjenbrudh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield.

In fact, it’s pretty rare.

“As far as touchdowns, we looked Tuesday and we had four total tornadoes for the month of January since 1950, including this one,” he said.

The one confirmed tornado touchdown hit Punkin Center, a trailer park near Purdy in Barry County at 5:18 p.m. Monday.

Adding to the oddity of a tornado in the middle of the winter, the meteorologist stated there was an increase in the number of tornado watches.

“We put out a lot of tornado warnings on Monday,” Barjenbrudh said. “Sixty-two were issued in Southwest Missouri. For January, I would say that was a record number of warnings.”

A tornado warning indicates either a tornado has been seen or meteorologists have a strong reason to believe that one can occur very shortly.

A tornado watch is issued when conditions are right for the formation of tornadoes during the watch period.

Usually, tornado season begins in March or April.

“This storm system originally moved out of the same system that was associated with all of the snowfall in California,” Barjenbrudh said. “But it came out of Texas into Oklahoma and affected Arkansas, but most of the storms came out of Northeast Oklahoma.”

Reports of funnel clouds originated out of McDonald County, moving at about 50 mph.

After the tornado hit and leveled the trailer park near Purdy, the weather kept becoming destructive.

“Unfortunately, Purdy was hot and heavy pretty much all night long,” added Barjenbrudh.

Storm survey teams were out and about on Tuesday and today.

“We have three teams out. They will actually determine what was a tornado and what were straight line winds.”

Barjenbrudh said the classification of the Purdy tornado (ranging from an F0 to an F5) could be determined in the next couple of days.

Neosho Daily News