When and Where Do Tornadoes Occur?

Tornado Alley includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, eastern Colorado and western Iowa, and is characterized by a high frequency of strong and violent tornadoes and a relatively consistent season from year to year.

Tornadoes that reach Washington, D.C. suburban areas in September 2001 illustrate a fact often stated by weather forecasters: “Tornadoes can and do happen any time of the year in just about any location.” No one knows this better than National Severe Storms Laboratory Research Meteorologist Dr. Harold Brooks, who has analyzed the climatology of critical weather in the United States to better comprehend when and where tornadoes are most likely to occur. By understanding the threat posed by tornadoes in the United States, particularly the threat of strong and violent tornadoes, forecasters can more accurately predict them and communities can better prepare for them.

Tornado Alley includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, eastern Colorado and western Iowa, and is characterized by a high frequency of strong and violent tornadoes and a relatively consistent season from year to year.

Tornado Alley includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, eastern Colorado and western Iowa, and is recognized by a high frequency of powerful and violent tornadoes and a relatively consistent season from year to year.the year in just about any location.” No one is aware of this better than National Severe Storms Laboratory Research Meteorologist Dr. Harold Brooks, who has studied the climatology of severe weather in the United States to better understand when and where tornadoes are most likely to occur. By understanding the threat posed by tornadoes in the United States, especially the threat of strong and violent tornadoes, forecasters can more accurately anticipate them and communities can better prepare for them.

The main region of the United States in which substantial tornadoes occur most often is in an L-shaped area from Iowa to Colorado to Texas, with the highest chance in Oklahoma. In addition, this place has a constant season each year – from April through mid-June, with the most tornadoes generally occurring in May. These two details – the conjunction of high frequency of strong and violent tornadoes and the comparable reliability of the season from year to year from north Texas up into western Iowa – provide a natural, objective way to determine Tornado Alley.

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