Tornado Alley Shifts: North Texas Seeing Fewer Major Tornadoes While Mississippi Sees More
TEXAS (KPEL News) - When someone says "Tornado Alley," you already know what area of the country that person is talking about. It's always been Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and the rest of that general region.
But that appears to be changing, and the North Texas region and up are starting to see fewer major tornadoes as "Tornado Alley" starts shifting to the east.
According to the Center For Science Education, Texas and Oklahoma have historically had the most tornados per year per 10,000 square miles. As recently as 2019, the Dallas, Texas, area saw $2 billion in losses due to severe tornadoes.
But there is a change in the air, so to speak.
The New "Tornado Alley"
Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, and Indiana have been seeing more severe tornadoes, a major shift away from states like Texas and Oklahoma.
Late last month, a major tornado killed dozens in Mississippi, and left major destruction in its wake. It's part of a trend in that region of the country as a change in climate patterns shifts the likelihood of major tornadoes.
This comes at a time, however, when the frequency of tornado activity in the United States has been on the decline. Peak tornado activity has also shifted, now happening earlier in the spring as opposed to late spring and early summer.
As the news website Axios notes, however, the shift in tornado activity does have a major drawback: Population.
Threat level: The eastern part of the country is more densely populated than the traditional tornado alley, elevating the risks to people and property.
- More than 50 people died in the past two weeks after severe thunderstorms and tornadoes tore through the South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.
- Another potentially significant outbreak is projected from Illinois to Arkansas today.
Researcher Victor Gensini told Axios that "Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, those kinds of areas are typically staying stagnant or decreasing in terms of the number of strong tornadoes they get every year."
"But," he added, "then you see an increase in places like Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, areas that are the traditional area of the Great Plains. And that's incredibly important for the United States — as you go from the Great Plains, the population density rapidly increases."