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What Is Tornado Alley?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0
Credit: www.tofuhaus.com

The deadly area known as "Tornado Alley"

Tornado Alley is a term we have dedicated to the center area of the United States of America due to the frequency of severe thunderstorms that form there and where twisters most frequently occur. The primary states that this zone falls into is Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. Other states that dip into this designated area include South Dakota, Iowa, north Texas, and eastern Colorado. South Minnesota and extreme south east Wyoming have also been put into this area as well, though it's just the edges of those states.[1] Here is where tornadoes call home, due to the weather patterns that form and the favorable conditions that arise to spawn severe weather.

Tornado Alley
Credit: www.fastcoexist.com

What makes tornadoes form here?

Tornadoes call this zone "Tornado Alley" home because of the way different weather patterns form and close in together in this central spot of the United States. For starters you have a deadly combination mix of cool dry air, warm dry air, and warm moist air all combining in one location. That combined with the head generated in the Midwest and the jet stream interfering with the weather patterns gives you a recipe for the deadly weather phenomenon of tornadoes. In addition this area is primarily flat which is favorable for tornadoes to form and plow whichever path they want to take, so the lack of obstructions gives them power to keep moving. We can see numerous videos on youtube and on television where twisters that lack obstructions and have favorable conditions and lots of energy to tap into can cross multiple state lines and leave a path of total destruction

Deadly twister
Credit: weathersavvy.com

How to reduce casualties

Right now there is no known way to stop a powerful beast like this. They are super powered monsters of death and destruction so we are powerless to save ourselves from them. However we have found numerous precautions to work throughout our history with these phenomenons and have saved many lives. Our best hope against tornadoes is a combination of early warnings such as tornado sirens and touchdown reports by storm chasers to alert local weather stations. This gives people time to get to shelter in a basement or a low section of a building and take cover. If a powerful tornado is coming then there isn't much you can do if you are without a storm shelter to find. Most homes and towns in "Tornado Alley" have such shelters because they know they live in an environment that produces these things so this issue has largely been addressed. With new technologies at our disposal, good early warnings, and storm chasers tracking these twisters the number of casualties has decreased significantly.

Storm Chaser
Credit: www.automopedia.org

The thrill of the hunt

A very popular TV show called Storm Chasers run by the Discovery Channel has gained significant attention and has strived to not only record tornadoes on tape, but an Imax filmmaker named Sean Casey has come on board to film the inside of a tornado.[2] These chasers have driven into the heart of Tornado Alley year after year to capture the best pictures, videos, and data of tornadoes as best they can. Due to their hard effort and those of many storm chasers that flock to "Tornado Alley" each year, the data on tornadoes has grown leaps and bounds and weather centers can better predict when a tornado will form and start early warnings to get residents to safety. Sean Casey finally got the shots he needed for his inside the tornado film and it has gained national recognition for the efforts put into the film and the vehicle he drove to get inside one. Because of these chasers more amateur chasers are getting involved each year to record data and more information about tornadoes in "Tornado Alley" and as time progresses I believe that we will see more safety protocols released that will save even more lives. It's quite an interesting thing to say that a chaser chases twisters for fun and at the same time is chasing lives. The more they chase, the more we can save lives in the deadly area of "Tornado Alley".



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  1. Wikipedia "Tornado Alley." Tornado Alley. 8/04/2013 <Web >
  2. "Discovery Channel Presents: Storm Chasers." Storm Chasers. 8/04/2013 <Web >

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