Meteorologists Say ‘Tornado Alley’ is Shifting – Now Includes Portions of IN, IL, KY
If it seems like we are hearing about more and more tornadoes in the Midwest each year, that's because we are. This increase in severe weather has led meteorological experts to redefine the area known as Tornado Alley, which continues to grow and is shifting into new areas of the country.
What is Tornado Alley?
Let me preface this by saying that tornadoes can happen anywhere in America - obviously - but certain areas are known for having a higher frequency and intensity of tornadic activity than others - this area is known as Tornado Alley. The map below shows that 100 years ago, the original Tornado Alley was a region stretching from Texas up into South Dakota, and it kind of looks like an alley. According to AccuWeather, "This region is known for its flat terrain and the clash of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico with cool, dry air from Canada."
Tornado Alley is Shifting
Over the past few decades, meteorologists have observed Tornado Alley shifting to the east, which is not great news for a lot of people in the Midwest and the South, including the Tri-State area of Southwestern Indiana, Southern Illinois, and Western Kentucky. The map below shows how many more states are now a part of Tornado Alley. If you live in these areas, you don't need me or some infographic to tell you that tornadoes are a very real threat every year.
Why is Tornado Alley Shifting?
Based on the response from AccuWeather, it doesn't sound like the experts know exactly what has caused the shift, but they do have a couple of theories...
The exact reason for the shift in tornado activity hasn't been determined. Experts believe there are a few factors that could be contributing to the shift. One theory is that climate change is causing changes in wind patterns, pushing tornado activity further east. Another is that improvements in tornado detection and reporting are simply revealing more tornadoes in areas previously considered less prone to them.
I'm leaning toward the latter explanation - I don't know if we are actually getting more tornadoes than before, but there are just better and more accurate ways to detect them.