STUDY SUGGESTS TORNADO ALLEY IS SHIFTING EAST

Ch. 6 - June 13, 2024 5:50 am

A recent study by meteorologists says Tornado Alley is shifting to the East.

Since the 1950s, Tornado Alley has been known as a hotbed of storms stretching from Texas to Nebraska, but a new study suggests that the highest concentration of tornados has moved east.

Oklahoma is no stranger to tornados, and this year has been especially active with 103 so far.

“Oklahoma stands out,” said meteorologist Steve Piltz.

Piltz is meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in Tulsa. He says the weather from year to year is always changing.

“Sometimes the worst severe weather can be in one part of the country and be in the next part of the country the next year, that’s just all part of the normal progression of things,” said Piltz.

But some scientists say Tornado Alley as a whole is shifting.

A study published this April in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology says after looking at tornado data from 1950 to 2020, the area with the most tornados has moved.

“In the more recent period from 1986 to 2020 that primary area of tornado risk shifted to an area from southern Mississippi into northern Alabama middle Tennessee in central Kentucky,” said Dr. Tim Coleman.

Coleman was the lead author on the study and says it’s unclear what the cause of this shift is, and he doesn’t want to paint the picture that the traditional tornado alley isn’t still at risk of deadly storms.

Eastern Oklahoma, where Tulsa is, is still in a fairly significant risk for tornados,” said Coleman.

And for the meteorologists at the National Weather Service, the research won’t change their mission to keep people safe and informed.

“We have to be ready whether it’s spring or it’s winter. No matter what year it is, we have to be ready for that,” said Piltz.

One thing the author of this study says is that just because the data shows tornado alley shifting, doesn’t mean it can’t shift back west again in years to come.

 

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