Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
Weather, photography and the open roadClick for an important message
Storm Highway by Dan RobinsonClick for an important message

MYTH: "Tornado Alley" is located in the Great Plains states of the USA.

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
Important Message 30 Years of Storm Chasing & Photography Dan's YouTube Video Channel Dan's Twitter feed Dan's RSS/XML feed

TRUTH: Tornado Alley is a colloquialism (not an officially recognized term) describing the part of the United States where tornadoes - specifically strong and violent ones - are most common. Most think of Tornado Alley as confined to the Great Plains region of the central United States, focused on Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. But in reality, true "Tornado Alley" is much larger. This map shows all tornado tracks in the U.S. from 1950 to 2016:

Map of all tornado tracks in the US
All tornado tracks, 1950 to 2016. Source: NOAA SPC

"Tornado Alley" actually encompasses the region between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic Coast, with a few minimums in the Appalachian mountain regions. Of the top 10 worst tornado outbreaks in US history, all but 2 were outside of the Great Plains, happening instead in the Midwest and South - and in most cases, east of the Mississippi River [1].

Tornado in Illinois
Tornado in Illinois

The southern United States region, including Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia are equal to, and in some years surpass, the Great Plains in nearly every tornado metric including the number of violent (F/EF4 and F/EF5) tornadoes, tornado outbreaks and their resulting damage, deaths and injuries [1].

READ: More Weather Myths | Weather Library Home

Storm chaser and photographer Dan Robinson
About the Author: Dan Robinson has been a storm chaser, photographer and cameraman for 30 years. His career has involved traveling around the country covering the most extreme weather on the planet including tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, floods and winter storms. Dan has been extensively published in newspapers, magazines, web articles and more, and has both supplied footage for and appeared in numerous television productions and newscasts. He has also been involved in the research community, providing material for published scientific journal papers on tornadoes and lightning. Dan also holds an active Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA (Part 107) for commercial drone operation.

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