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Tornado outbreak unusual for December

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DENVER (KDVR) — The deadly tornado outbreak that happened across five states Friday night and Saturday morning was an unusual set of circumstances.

The storms brought impacts to parts of Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Temperatures in that area on Friday reached the 70s and 80s with record-breaking heat in some areas. There were also high dew points which means there was enough heat and moisture in the atmosphere to support tornado formation.

Looking at the 25 year average for the average number of tornadoes in the month of December by state shows that the area most likely to see tornadoes this late in the year is the southeast. Even in those states, it isn’t that common to see December tornadoes.

For Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky, the average number of tornadoes for the month of December is zero. In contrast, the month of May, which is one of the busiest tornado months in those states, brings over 10 on average in Missouri and Illinois.

In the last 70 years, there has only been one other tornado in Kentucky in the month of December that was an EF3 strength or stronger. That tornado happened in 1952.

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