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                   Thursday, March 9, 2017

The "Violent Tornado Alley" of the southern Midwest

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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Back in 2015, I assembled this map for the 90th anniversary of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado. Now that another event has occurred in this region this year, I decided to revise and expand it to show the remarkable cluster of near-parallel violent (F4 and F5) tornado tracks in the small 30-mile-wide corridor. While strong and violent tornadoes can and do occur outside of this "tornado alley", it is incredible to see so many so close together with near-identical trajectories. Click on this map to view it full size:

The Violent Tornado Alley of the southern Midwest

It's also interesting to note that these tornadoes all occurred in dissimilar synoptic environments, with many happening outside of the peak severe weather season. The Tri-State Tornado, for example, formed from a supercell essentially riding near the center of a surface low tracking across the region, while the 2006 and 2017 events were far removed from the surface low in the southern portions of a larger outbreak. The dates of each of these events reiterates the fact that the Midwest has no tornado "off season" - the threat can materialize at any time of year and at any hour of the day or night.

Notice that the track of the Tri-State Tornado of 1925 is in the center of this corridor. In fact, if I were to a.) extend this map farther to the northeast into southern Indiana, covering the entire length of the Tri-State Tornado track and b.) expand the corridor width to 70-100 miles, I could include many more historical violent tornado tracks including the February 2012 Harrisburg, IL EF4, the December 1957 Sunfield, IL F5/Mount Vernon, IL F4 and the June 1990 Albion, IL F4 - all of which followed similar trajectories to the east-northeast as the tracks shown here!

I witnessed two of the events shown on this map, the Crosstown F4 in 2006 and the Perryville-Christopher EF4 of 2017:

Crosstown, Missouri F4 tornado
Crosstown, Missouri F4 tornado - September 22, 2006

Christopher, Illinois tornado
Christopher, Illinois EF4 tornado - February 28, 2017

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