Christmas Day tornadoes rare, but not unheard of

The National Weather Service took reports of at least 34 separate tornadoes in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Dec. 25, 2012, according to the service's Storm Prediction Center.

The Christmas holiday may conjure visions of snow and ice, but twisters like the ones reported in the south on Tuesday are not unheard of this time of year.

Ten storm systems in the last 50 years (list below) have spawned at least one Christmastime tornado with winds of 113 mph or more in the South, said Chris Vaccaro, a National Weather Service spokesman in Washington, via email.

The most lethal were the storms of Dec. 24-26, 1982, when 29 tornadoes in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi killed three people and injured 32.

Prior to this year, a total of 30 tornadoes touched down on Christmas Day since 1964, according to online twister tracker TornadoHistoryProject.com .

The most recent were a series of six tornadoes in Florida in 2006 that injured 14 people, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

The National Weather Service in Washington, DC compiled a list of notable U.S. tornado events with at least one F2 (minimum 113-mph) tornado between Dec. 24 and Dec. 26:

--Dec. 24-25, 1964: 14 tornadoes (three of them F3), Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina,  South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia. Two deaths in Georgia; about 30 people injured.

--Dec. 25, 1969: 12 tornadoes (two F3) in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana   One death in Louisiana, 17 injuries.

--Dec. 25-26, 1973: 7 tornadoes, two of them F2, in Alabama, Florida, Georgia. Two injuries.

--Dec. 24, 1975: 3 tornadoes (one F3) in Texas and Florida. No injuries or deaths.

--Dec. 24-25, 1977: 3 tornadoes (1 F3) in Mississippi and Florida. Seven injuries.

--Dec. 24-26, 1982: 29 tornadoes (one F4, two F3), in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi. Three deaths in Arkansas and Missouri; 32 injuries.

--Dec. 24, 1988; 1 tornado (F4) in Tennessee. One death; seven injuries.

--Dec. 24, 1997: 3 tornadoes (one F2) in Alabama. Five injured.

--Dec. 25, 2006: 6 tornadoes (four F2) in Georgia and Florida. 14 injured.

--Dec. 24, 2009: 22 tornadoes (three F2) in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Four injured.

Other statistics:

Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida are the most likely states to have tornado events around this time of year.

The last time a number of tornadoes impacted the Gulf Coast area around Christmas Day was in 2009, when 22 tornadoes occurred during the morning of December 24th.

In over 60 years there have been two EF4-rated tornadoes on Christmas Eve, one in 1982 in Arkansas, the other in 1988 in Tennessee.

The last killer tornado around Christmas was a Christmas Eve F4 in Tennessee in 1988, killing one person and injuring 7.

The Associated Press Contributed to this Report

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