Dubbed ‘Tornado Alley’ back in 1952, areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota have long been believed to have the most tornadoes – but meteorologists believe ‘Tornado Alley’ could actually be shifting east.
According to AccuWeather, an average of 1,200 tornadoes hit the United States each year, and it’s not just ‘Tornado Alley’ that has seen powerful tornadoes. Areas in the MidWest and the southeastern US have seen an increased number of destructive tornadoes within the past twenty years.
“When you look at the trends in where tornadoes have occurred in recent years, it’s very clear that there have been more tornadoes farther south and farther east away from what people have typically known as the Tornado Alley across the Plains,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter explained.
A 2018 study published in the journal Nature showed “that the ingredients required to produce long-lived twisters were flourishing more in the Mississippi River valley in the last 20 years than parts of the original Tornado Alley.”
According to AccuWeather’s analysis, common tornado activity has moved from ‘Tornado Alley’ to the Southeast and parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley, which can in part be traced back to a 20-year megadrought gripping the Southwest.
“You’re going to see higher pressure aloft over the Southwest, and that will bring drier air into the Plains and force the storm track and the worst of the tornadoes to develop farther east into the Mississippi and Tennessee Valley,” AccuWeather long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok explained. “You’re going to need to break that drought to get more consistent action going on in Tornado Alley.”