Is ‘Tornado Alley’ really on the move?


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — This weekend’s storm system has some asking if “Tornado Alley” is shifting east of Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas. The term was coined decades ago and references the stretch of land from Nebraska through parts of Texas.

But studies through the years show there are other similar ‘tornado alleys’ across the country, including the “Hoosier Alley” in Indiana and the “Carolina Alley” throughout North and South Carolina.

“We’ve also seen another max which is known as ‘Dixie Alley,’ which would include Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky — in that area which was impacted last weekend,” KSN Storm Track 3 Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman said.

It’s one of the reasons why Teachman says the term “Tornado Alley” should be expanded upon.

“Tornadoes can happen anytime and anywhere if the right ingredients come together,” Teachman said.

The recent deadly storms come at a time of low tornadic activity for central and southeast Kansas.

“Have things shifted to the east? That perception is definitely there,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Chance Hayes.

Between 1953-2021, 26 counties throughout central and southeast Kansas averaged roughly 18.67 tornadoes per year. However, from 1997-2019, those same counties averaged 28 tornadoes per year.

Hayes says since last year, the tables have turned.

“Our jurisdiction had zero last year, and up to this point, I think we have a preliminary number of three this year,” Hayes said.

But experts say that’s no reason to become complacent.

“So everything is kind of cyclical when it comes to tornadoes — no question in my mind there will be a return of tornadoes to the state of Kansas, absolutely,” Hayes said.

“It’s why we always need to be weather aware. We need to know those changing weather conditions days in advance,” Teachman said.

Teachman says one of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to download a weather app updated by actual meteorologists instead of a mathematical computer.

The FOX4KC weather apps are available on iPhone and Android.

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