Tornado Alley


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Tornado Alley is term that it is typically used to describe a wide swath of tornado-prone areas between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains that frequently experience tornadoes.


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It is not an official weather term; it was primarily a phrase popularized by the media. The borders of Tornado Alley are not clearly defined.

Tornado Alley

They vary, depending on the criteria used — frequency, intensity, or events per unit area. While the "Wizard of Oz" still conjures up images of Kansas as a tornado-prone area, that state is not the most highly impacted state when it comes to tornadoes.


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According to the National Climatic Data Center , Texas reports the highest number of tornadoes of any state, although its very large land mass accounts for that status. Kansas and Oklahoma are second and third respectively when it comes to the number of tornadoes reported, but those states report more tornadoes per land area than Texas.

What is Tornado Alley?

Tornado Alley has all of the weather conditions needed for a tornado to take shape. Tornadoes form when three different types of air converge in a specific manner: While not as familiar as Tornado Alley, the designation Dixie Alley generally refers to another part of the country that is likely to experience tornadoes — generally the upper Tennessee Valley and Lower Mississippi Valley.

Globally, latitudes between about 30 degrees and 50 degrees North or South provide the most favorable environment for tornadoes. Tornadoes form along the "dry line" where there are more thunderstorms because there's dry air to the west and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to the east.

Tornado Alley May Be Shifting East and Scientists Don't Know Why

The authors go on to say "it is unclear whether the observed trends in tornado environment and report frequency are due to natural variability or being altered by anthropogenic forcing on the climate system. The greatest declines in tornado frequency were in central and eastern Texas. The biggest decreases in tornado activity were found from March through May while big decreases across the rest of tornado alley were found in meteorological summer.

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Contrary to expectation, the areas where tornadoes would have been most underreported before the digital age are the same areas where these decreases in tornado frequency are most common. Show me the weather in Toggle Menu Menu Manage notifications. By Jonathan Belles October 17 Tornadic activity is picking up in the East and scientists are stumped.

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