Tornado Alley Season Starts Soon
The tornado alley season is fast approaching. If you know about this, this is a time to get prepared for the tornado season.
But if you don’t know what tornado alley is you really will not even know the tornado season will be starting in a couple of weeks.
The phrase “tornado alley,” while not an official term used to describe weather events, has been featured heavily in popular media in recent years.
Readers who don’t hail from those states affected by these often devastating weather events may, however, be asking themselves, what is tornado alley?
This article attempts to offer a comprehensive response to this frequently asked question.
What are Tornadoes?
Tornadoes are some of the most devastating and awe-inspiring natural events that regularly occur in the continental United States. Tornadoes also referred to for some reason as twisters, are rotating columns of air that develop between the surface of the Earth and low-hanging clouds.
They require very specific weather conditions in order to form, with the most intense tornadoes spawning from what are known as supercell thunderstorms.
How is a Supercell Thunderstorm Formed?
These rotating storms provide all of the ingredients that tornadoes need to get started.
First, fast-moving wind from the storm will roll air into a spinning tube that lies perpendicular to the ground. Next, the warmer air found near ground level will begin to lift a section of this tube of air into a vertical position.
These updrafts produce two vortices, one of which will die out, and the other of which will go on to form the heart of the developing supercell thunderstorm.
For all of these steps to occur, creating the right environment for conversion into a serious tornado, the supercell will need support from increasingly strong winds that vary in direction based on height.
This causes updrafts, which tend to rotate as the warm air rises. In approximately 30 percent of cases, this violent churning of the air will produce a tornado below the supercell.
How Do Tornadoes Form?
In order for a tornado to form, the air temperature within the storm must be within a very specific range, just a few degrees colder than the surrounding air.
Strong wind changes in the atmosphere and high relative humidity are also required for tornadoes to form, and downdrafts must occur in exactly the right area of the thunderstorm.
Despite the very particular environment tornadoes require to form giant, destructive storms, they are surprisingly prevalent in many areas.
Tornado Alley Season Facts
All of this information leaves the reader prepared to answer the question: what is tornado alley?
While there are not any exact geographical boundaries to the area of the country colloquially known as tornado alley and it can be hard to pin down where tornado alley is located in the U.S.
Most people define the borders of tornado alley as beginning in central Texas and ending in eastern South Dakota, covering areas of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and western Ohio.
Of all those states that people think of when they wonder what is tornado alley, Texas is the one that reports the highest number of tornadoes annually.
However, both Kansas and Oklahoma report more tornadoes per acre of land. Despite this area’s designation as tornado alley, there are plenty of other areas of the country that routinely experience tornadoes as well, such as the Dixie Alley.
Where is Dixie Alley
Dixie Alley is set up as the area that includes the following geographical areas in the United States. This area is defined as eastern Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia. It also borders up against South Carolina, North Carolina, and as well as western Kentucky, and Southeastern Missouri. You can also include northern Florida in Dixie Alley.
As I was mentioning Florida I wanted to share a fact little known to many.
When it comes to interesting facts tornadoes in Florida are actually more common than they are in tornado alley, but they rarely reach the same intensity.
Origin of the Term
The first known use of the term “tornado alley” dates back to 1952, when several Air Force meteorologists studying extreme weather events coined it in their research project.
These same two researchers were responsible for the first successful tornado forecast prior to this study in 1948 as well.
This accomplishment is an impressive feat, given the difficulties associated with predicting these extreme weather events even in contemporary times.
Once the phrase was introduced, it took hold in the news media and its use is almost ubiquitous today.
Learn More Online
Still not sure how to answer the question what is tornado alley? Readers can find additional information about tornadoes, tornado alley season, and the deadliest tornadoes in history online.