November and December are the secondary severe weather season
November 18, 2014 at 4:17 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 5:40 AM
Monday's tornado watch is a reminder that you should stay vigilant, even in the cool season, when it comes to severe weather.
Traditional severe weather season is usually late March and early April through May. Many notable severe weather outbreaks have occurred in North Carolina during this time, such as the March 28th, 1984 outbreak as well as April 16th, 2011. There is a lesser known severe weather peak during November and December that is just as threatening.
Thankfully, the system that is now bringing us the cold temperatures did not produce severe weather. But it's not out of the question to see severe weather in any form during this time period.
Severe weather often happens when there is clashing of warm, moist gulf air clashes with a dip in the jet stream brings down a cold, dry air mass out of Canada or the Arctic. The lift in the atmosphere usually comes from the combination of the cold, dense air bulldozing the warm, moist and more buoyant air upward to create thunderstorms.
Since 1950, southeast North Carolina has seen seven tornadoes in the month of November and two in the month of December.
The deadliest tornado in recent history for southeast North Carolina was the Riegelwood EF-3 tornado on November 16th, 2006. That storm system was in a similar set-up as the theorized one above. That day, that was the only tornado recorded in the state of North Carolina among a myriad of wind damage reports.
Most recently, Christmas 2014 featured a brief tornado touchdown in northern New Hanover County near Castle Hayne that resulted in damage to a home and one person being injured by flying debris.
Though tornadoes are not as common in the state of North Carolina as the states in traditional "Tornado Alley" or "Dixie Alley", they are not uncommon. In April 2014, northeast North Carolina saw a tornado outbreak that injured several and killed one. Southeast North Carolina is part of the "Carolina Tornado Alley", which stretches up and down the coastal plain of the Carolinas.
Remember to have a safety action plan. Where will you and your family seek shelter in your home when a warning is issued? The best location, aside from a basement, is in a room away from windows and exterior doors with several walls in between the location and the outside walls. Typically, this is a bathroom or closet. Also, having a NOAA weather radio will help to keep you aware if any watches or warnings are issued for your area. If you are on the go, our WECT Weather mobile app uses the GPS signal to send alerts to you if you have push notifications turned on for your area.