Tornadoes remain some of the deadliest, most terrifying natural storms on the planet, but little is known about this severe weather phenomenon. The science behind tornadoes is often much scarier than we care to imagine, and a lot of it occurs in a small region known as “Tornado Alley” right here in the United States.
Tornado Alley Facts
There is something fascinating about tornadoes. Some people are so inspired by their sheer power that they devote their lives to chasing cyclones and recording them on film for research. These facts are not just for scientists, but rather for everyone in Tornado Alley.
- The name “Tornado Alley” was initially used in 1952. It was the term given to a study performed by local scientists on severe weather fronts throughout Oklahoma and Texas. The original study was performed by USAF meteorologists Ernest Fawbush and Robert Miller.
- The single deadliest tornado in U.S. history occurred in 1925. Known as the Tri-State Tornado, this twister ravaged a mile-wide path for more than 220 miles through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana at a moving speed of 60 to 70 miles per hour. It was completely invisible. The telltale funnel cloud of a tornado never formed, but the damage was very real. More than 700 people died, more than 2,000 were injured, and property losses totaled over $16 million.
- The widest tornado, an EF5, struck El Reno, Oklahoma, on May 31, 2013. It was 2.6 miles wide at its peak. Before that, a 2.4-mile-wide tornado struck Hallam, Nebraska, in May of 2004.
- The worst tornado outbreak of all time occurred on April 27, 2011. A reported 207 tornadoes touched down throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia, killing a total of 319 people and injuring 2,839 more.
- Also among the regions with the most severe tornadoes in the country, Dixie Alley includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina. Since 2011, Dixie Alley has rivaled Tornado Alley in tornado outbreaks.
- Tornado forecasts in Tornado Alley have a 70 percent “false alarm” rate these days. However, scientists and meteorologists are better at predicting tornadoes than ever before.
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Tornadoes remain one of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena on the planet, but their deadly reputation reigns true, particularly in Tornado Alley. Around 1,000 tornadoes touch down in the United States annually, and the majority are right here in Tornado Alley. For additional exciting tornado facts, read our infographic below!