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Jed's Weather Blog: Has Tornado Alley Shifted East?

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I received a question in an email this last week asking, "Has Tornado Alley shifted east?"

Let me start by saying that tornadoes can happen anywhere in the United States if the proper ingredients are there..Any time of the year..From California to Maine including Hawaii and Alaska!

With all the recent deaths, destruction and news about tornadoes - and BIG tornadoes - east of us this last week, it seems that those ingredients have been more consistent recently. Not only has this year started off with a bang, but last year was an incredible tornado year too! More people died from tornadoes last year than any other year since 1950. There were several well known tornado outbreaks last year including the Carolinas, the Dixie states and the Tennessee Valley last year. And who can forget the tornado that struck Joplin?!

There were 49 killer tornadoes in the east and 3 killer tornadoes in Oklahoma in 2011. This year we have had two unprecedented tornado outbreaks that have killed many as well. So if you look at the short term, it appears that tornado alley has shifted east.

While there is a lot of attention on those east of us, let me ask you a question: Which city has been hit by more tornadoes than any other?

If you guessed Oklahoma City, then you guessed correctly. Obviously, this is not a statistic that the OKC Chamber of Commerce or OKC Realtor Association like to have promoted... but it is a fact.

Here is a list from the National Weather Service of all documented tornadoes that have hit OKC since 1890!

This a great website on the climatology of tornadoes for Oklahoma City. This statistic puts in perspective where the worst of the worst is usually located.

What makes the tornado alley, "Tornado Alley?" There are several factors: the Rockies, the Gulf of Mexico and latitude. Tornado Alley covers much of the central and southern plains. It is within this area, climatology, tornadoes average more than any other area in the country during the year. This Alley is most active from March through June.

While Tornado Alley is the claim to fame for the central US, as I pointed out before, just about every state east of the Rockies is fair game for tornadoes. Tornado outbreaks do occur outside of this area and smaller tornado zones and trends have been established seasonally and geographically. For example, Florida is one of the most prone states to tornadoes, but they normally are small and rarely get over 100 mph. Many times this is due to tropical type systems. There are mini areas of increased tornadic activity in Mississippi, across Indiana and Illinois and northeast Colorado. These are seasonal type averages as well.

I do not believe that the greatest threat for tornadoes has permanently shifted east of Oklahoma. This has just been recent trend and those east of us have certainly paid for it. We are gearing up and ready to go for whatever comes our way. Make sure your weather safety plan for your family is in place. So, stay with News 9, we will keep you advised!

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