Tornado Alley

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2020 Forecast Tornado Alley

There are few things that fascinate the rest of the world about the United States than its region called Tornado Alley. This roughly delineated region in the central US spawns the world’s biggest, most frightening and damaging tornados.

Some Tornados are several miles wide with wind speeds reaching 260+ mph (460 km/hr.) The fastest Tornado wind speed ever recorded was an F5 twister of 301 mph occurring in Moore, Oklahoma in 1999 (near Oklahoma City). It killed 36 people and caused $1 Billion damage.

It’s the destructive force of these big storms that inspire movies, tourism, theme park rides, and big news media coverage. And it inspires storm chasers and a big interest in Tornado season forecasts. See our live Tornado coverage pages for streaming coverage of Tornados occuring.

Direct Weather’s Outlook for the Central US States this Summer

 

Although Tornados are a curiosity for everyone else, the residents of Tornado Alley are wary of these vicious storms, especially when they occur at night. Many homes in Tornado Alley don’t have basements, leaving residents more vulnerable than those living in Northerly regions in the east.

The damage to homes is often extensive requiring residents to have to live in community shelters in close proximity for days or weeks. This year because of the Corona Virus pandemic, the 2020 Tornado season is causing a lot of concern for the health of those living in Tornado belt region.

1200 Tornados occur every year in the US, while one state seems to have the most serious events. Tornado season seems to be characterized by outbreaks of multiple Tornados along a strong storm front. Some of these events include double or multiple Tornados next to each other.

Dead Man Walking Tornados

Multivortex Tornados which native Indians called “dead man walking” Tornados are some of the strangest and dangerous versions.

 

The force of major Tornados is so intense that ponds and small lakes are sucked up dry, pavement is removed from highways and trees are completely scoured from the landscape. The worst Tornado in history hit Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana in 1925, killing 700 people and injuring 2000 more.

Although the state of Florida has more Tornados per square mile than any other state, the intensity of Tropical twisters doesn’t compare to fury of Tornados that terrorize people in the famous Tornado Alley in the central plains and mid west region.

Where is Tornado Alley?

The term came about in 1952 when researchers were studying severe weather in this region. Some also call it the Tornado belt.

Tornado Alley includes the region from Texas and alabama north to Illinois. We might include all states in between the Rocky mountains to the west over to Appalachian mountains to the east. Much of the region is flat, grassy plains that offer few barriers to intense storms that happen here.

Screenshot courtesy of Wikipedia and NOA

 

Why all the Tornadic activity in Tornado Alley?

It seems it’s the convergence of cold air fronts to the north sweeping down to meet hot, humid weather welling up from the Gulf of Mexico. When they collide over states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Colorado, you see twisters of up to magnitude F4 and F5 devastate crops and many communities.

Due to global climatic changes, some believe the boundaries of Tornado Alley are moving northward, even as far as Canada and eastward into Kentucky and Tennessee.

States that aren’t normally associated with high Tornado activity should include Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Kentucky and Tennessee. However, these states have some of the most Tornados each year. There is no official boundary of the Tornado belt region.

While Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Mississippi experience their highest Tornadic activity in the spring, it’s the states northward such as Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

While these intense storms are the focus of inspiration and joy for storm chasers, they are the constant worry of travelers and residences across the great plains. NOA has said that 25% of all serious Tornados happen in Tornado Alley.

 

Tornado Alley Diagram

 

Fastest Tornado Winds Ever

The F5 Tornado in Moore Oklahoma took first place for fastest wind speeds ever at 300+ mph.

The El Reno Tornado that hit Oklahoma in 2013 is believed to be the widest Tornado ever at almost 3 miles.  This video by a weather Channel storm chaser shows the size and fury of a huge funnel cloud in Kansas — well know for its massive Twisters.

 

 

 

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