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Is the title, “Tornado Alley” outdated?

Living in the Midwest means that we are familiar with tornadoes, and it may mean you’re familiar with the term “Tornado Alley”. Lately, questions have been raised as to whether or not that term is accurate given data from the last 70 years.

Tornado Alley covers a large portion of the Great Plains from Texas to South Dakota with areas of the surrounding states also included. This area got its name from a 1950’s Air Force project that was created to help forecast severe weather, and the name’s popularity grew from there. Recently, however, there has been a push within the weather community to stop using this title as it doesn’t wholly represent where tornadoes are likely to happen.

Map courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center’s tornado track map summarizes which areas of the United States have seen tornadoes. This map clearly shows that most tornadoes occur between the Rockies and the Appalachians, with many tornadoes impacting the American South. After seeing two intense severe weather outbreaks in the south during March that produced damaging tornadoes, the push to stop the use of the term “Tornado Alley” has gotten stronger. Opposition to this term states that it is misleading and can cause citizens outside of Tornado Alley to be less aware that they are in an area likely to see tornadoes.

While there is no formal push to rename the area, it’s still an interesting topic to be aware of. A large portion outside of Tornado Alley, including mid-Missouri, is under the threat of tornadoes so being aware of the weather is always a good idea.

Article Topic Follows: Weather

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Maddie Est

Maddie Est appears on ABC 17’s weekend evening broadcasts. She grew up in St. Louis, and her passion for weather originated from a young age thanks to all the different weather that St. Louis receives. She is currently studying Atmospheric Science at the University of Missouri.


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