A tornado is one of the most dangerous weather events that can occur. It can appear with minimal warning and tear a path of destruction that can lead to long-term damage and even fatalities. Learning about tornado activity and its impact can ensure you and your family are safe in a dangerous storm.
This blog will examine what indicators to look for that signal tornados are in the forecast and explore the unique traits of Tornado Alley, an unassuming name for a region of the country noted for its deadly tornado occurrences.
What Causes Tornadoes?
Tornadoes form when warm, moist air meets cool, dry air. This collision of contrasting air masses creates an environment ripe for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
The most crucial factor in tornado formation is what’s known as wind shear. Wind shear is a difference in wind speed or direction over a short distance in the atmosphere. When you have strong wind shear, it can help create rotating thunderstorms, which can then lead to tornadoes.
Tornadoes are rated on a scale of intensity known as the Fujita Scale or F-Scale. This scale goes from F0 to F5, with F0 being the least intense and F5 being the most.
While tornados can occur anywhere in the world, they are most common in the United States. The U.S. is home to more tornadoes than anywhere else.
What Is Tornado Alley?
Tornado Alley is a region in the United States with a high frequency of tornadoes. The term “Tornado Alley” was first used in 1952 by the United States Air Force meteorologists Captain Robert Miller and Major Ernest Fawbush when working on a research project studying severe weather in multiple states in the Midwest.
The two meteorologists discovered that large tornado outbreaks hit the Midwest and Great Plains with devastating force. This region sees the most tornadoes in the world, with an average of over 110 per year.
Where Is Tornado Alley?
The traditionally recognized Tornado Alley is located in the Midwest and Great Plains regions of the United States. Despite its name, it is not an officially defined area. However, most meteorologists agree it extends from Central Texas to the Midwest, stretching from Kansas and Nebraska eastward into Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri.
Tornado Alley is home to some of the largest cities in the United States, including Dallas, Oklahoma City, Wichita, and Kansas City.
About 1,200 tornadoes occur in the United States annually. An alarming fact: the most active Tornado Alley portion in the United States is in the southern plains, where violent tornadoes are most likely to form between late spring and early summer.
What’s the Difference Between Tornado Alley and Dixie Alley?
Whereas Tornado Alley is in the Midwest, Dixie Alley is located in the southeastern United States, also known as the Deep South. The region extends across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle.
While Dixie Alley doesn’t see as many tornadoes each year as Tornado Alley, the tornadoes in this region are often more destructive and deadlier. This is because the warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico collides with cool, dry air from the north. This meeting of contrasting air masses brews the right environment for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, Dixie Alley sees about 50-60 tornadoes per year, compared to the 150-200 tornadoes that hit Tornado Alley.
How Can Tornado Damage Impact You and Your Home?
Now that we understand tornados and Tornado Alley better, it’s important to learn how a tornado can affect you and your property.
Tornados can have a negative effect long after they’re gone. The damage they leave behind can be costly and lead to long-term problems. Their extraordinary wind speeds can damage roof shingles, shatter windows, and blow away doors. Tornadoes can also uproot trees and down power lines, causing them to fall and potentially injure people or damage property.
The first step is to be aware of your surroundings and accurately identify the signs of an approaching tornado. These include:
- A dark or green-colored sky
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if it’s rotating)
- Loud thunder that sounds like a freight train
- A whistling noise
- An approaching cloud of debris
If you live in an area prone to tornadoes, it is essential to have a plan in place in case one should strike. Knowing what to do can help keep you and your family safe. Take action now and ensure that you are prepared for a tornado by following these steps:
- Know where to take shelter. The best option is usually a basement or an interior room on the lowest level of your home or business.
- Have a safety plan in place. This may include having a designated meeting spot, stocking up on supplies, and having an emergency kit ready.
- Keep an eye on the sky when severe weather is forecasted. Be sure to listen to local news and monitor weather reports for updates.
- If a tornado warning is issued, take action immediately and seek shelter.
- Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car. Instead, find a sturdy building or shelter as fast as possible.
- Once the tornado has passed, be careful when exiting the shelter. Avoid downed power lines and do not enter damaged buildings until it is safe.
Tornadoes are unpredictable and can strike with little warning. However, being prepared and knowing what to do can help keep you and your loved ones safe should a tornado occur in your area. Stay safe this tornado season.
For Professional Damage Restoration, Call the PuroClean Remediation Experts
Dealing with tornado damage can be a harrowing experience. If you require assistance restoring your property after a catastrophic event, contact a professional damage restoration company such as PuroClean. We have the expertise and equipment to return your home to its pre-loss condition. To reach our team 24/7, please call (800) 775-7876.