It was a stormy and soggy start to 2017 for millions along the Gulf coast as a vigorous line of thunderstorms tracked from Southeast Texas to the Florida Panhandle on January 2nd. Sparked by an amplified trough of low pressure aloft, surface low pressure moved across Southeast Texas early Monday, causing widespread convection to form along and east of I-35. These storms moved quickly eastward through the morning hours, entering the Houston metro area after 7am CST.
Although the storms were below NWS severe criteria just west of the city, the line quickly intensified as it moved through an unstable and highly sheared environment. Several severe reports were noted in Houston, as trees and power-lines fell under the stress of high winds. Fortunately, no injuries were reported as a result of these storms.
As the day progressed, additional thunderstorm activity formed to the east over Louisiana, southern Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. In total, there were over 170 severe reports, with 13 tornado reports, primarily stemming from one embedded supercell within a line segment that moved from southeastern Alabama into southwestern Georgia. Tragically, one tornado took 4 lives at it tracked across the small community of Rehobeth, Alabama.
The storm reports from January 2nd, 2017 are an important reminder that severe weather, while more common in spring and fall, can happen any time of the year. In addition to receiving WWT alerts and notifications from National agencies, you can educate yourself and your family on severe thunderstorm safety at home.