November sees a dry spell for rain -- and tornadoes

A drought has kept water levels low at Lake Purdy near Birmingham, Alabama. It means few storms, too.

Story highlights

  • Storms need moist air to develop, and Southeast has faced a drought this fall
  • There hasn't been a US tornado to date in November -- usually a time for deadly storms

(CNN)Severe weather is often associated with spring, but fall is a second deadly season for tornadoes, especially for Gulf Coast states.

There hasn't been a single tornado to date this month in the country. Last year 99 tornadoes occurred in November.
    On average, the month sees 58 tornadoes, most occurring in Texas, which averages nine in November.
    Drought is overwhelming Southeastern states this fall, and temperatures have soared, depleting ground moisture.
    Storms need moist air to develop, and the lack of moisture this fall has inhibited storm development both for the much needed rain and the formation of supercell storms capable of producing tornadoes.
    Precipitation has been near or at zero for weeks in the region. The last measurable day of rain in Birmingham, Alabama, was September 18.
    There's been an "exceptional" drought -- the most severe kind -- along the Mississippi and Alabama border, and it's also expanded into eastern Alabama, northern Georgia and western North Carolina.
    This week more than 50 wildfires burned across the region; those fires have now been reduced to 38, but some remain fairly large. The Rough Ridge fire in Georgia currently has 10,336 acres burning and is only 13% contained.
    It may seem we have traded one natural disaster for another, but meteorologists caution the month is not over.
    Top 5 tornado outbreaks in November

    • November 21-23, 1992 -- 105
    • November 23-24, 2004 -- 93
    • November 9-11, 2002 -- 82
    • November 17, 2013 -- 74
    • November 23-24, 2001 -- 66

    Source: National Weather Service

    "We are not out of the woods yet. People don't think about November being a season for severe weather so they tend to let their guard down, especially when storms have been virtually nonexistent," CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said. "In fact, the Southeast states are particularly at risk for tornadoes this time of year. All it takes is one outbreak."
    Four of the five biggest outbreaks in November occurred in the latter part of the month, including 105 over a three-day period in 1992.
    The current trend for weather has been dry, but if moisture pushes back into the weather equation, the possibility for severe storms and tornadoes exists till the end of the month.