Are Storms Redefining ‘Tornado Alley’?

GEOGRAPHY AWARENESS WEEK! UNITED STATES

While the Great Plains states of Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, as well as parts of Texas, are collectively known as Tornado Alley for their frequent storms, the weekend was a reminder that Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin are also tornado-prone. (National Geographic News)

Use our resources to map tornadoes in the U.S.

This map gives a general view of North American regions prone to tornadoes and violent wind storms. Map by National Geographic Maps

This map gives a general view of North American regions prone to tornadoes and violent wind storms.
Map by National Geographic Maps

Discussion Ideas

  • “It turns out that the [phrase Tornado Alley] isn’t correct,” says the Weather Channel’s website, quoted in the Nat Geo News article. Does the map you made (with the NCDC’s data) support this? Take a look at “Tornado Alley” and “Dixie Alley” to see the traditional areas associated with tornadoes in the U.S.
  • The Nat Geo News article, quoting The Weather Channel, says Florida endures more tornadoes per square mile than any other U.S. state. The NCDC’s map shows Texas receiving the most tornadoes, however. Is the Weather Channel or NCDC wrong?
    • Neither is wrong. The NCDC map shows the total number of tornadoes per state. The Weather Channel tracked the total number of tornadoes per state, per square mile. Texas endures more tornadoes, but it’s a big state with a lot of square miles. Florida has fewer total tornadoes, but they’re packed into a smaller space.
    • This map from the NCDC tracks tornadoes by state, for every 10,000 square miles. The Weather Channel’s assertion that Florida endures more tornadoes relative to its size is born out.

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