Pat Shingleton for Jan. 3, 2013

NOAA released results on the 2012 tornado season. Experts compared data on the extremely active tornado outbreaks of 2011 as last year went into the record books as one of the seasons of lowest activity. The number of twisters in January, February and March was above normal, with April reporting below-normal numbers. Alabama, a state that experienced numerous destructive tornadoes, didn’t experience a single severe weather report for November. The Severe Storms Prediction Center announced the preliminary count for the United States was 1,060, well below the average annual number at 1,300. Comparative years found 856 tornadoes in 1989. From the late 1970s to 1980, the Great Plains were extremely dry, resulting in a tornado drought. Drought conditions in the Midwest also contributed to lower tornado episodes.

Fastcast: Clouds break.