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Twisted Paths: Reasons behind the shift in Tornado Alley

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There's been a shift in Tornado Alley, leading meteorologists to take a closer look at why

Key Highlights

Tornado Alley is an area in the U.S. known for its frequent tornado activity

Areas once considered "safe" from tornadoes may now be at higher risk

The shift in tornado activity could have economic implications

Tornadoes are one the most powerful and destructive weather phenomena. Each year, they cause millions of dollars in damage. For years, the area well-known for the most tornado activity in the U.S. has been called Tornado Alley. But recently, there has been a shift in the location of where we are seeing the most tornadoes, raising concerns that Tornado Alley is moving eastward.

What is Tornado Alley?

Tornado Alley is known for having a higher frequency and intensity of tornadoes than other parts of the country, but it is important to remember that tornadoes can happen anywhere.

Tornado Alley stretches from central Texas to South Dakota and from Nebraska to western Indiana. The region is known for its flat terrain and the clash of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico with cool, dry air from Canada.

classic tornado alley

Why is Tornado Alley shifting?

The exact reason for the shift in tornado activity hasn't been determined. Experts believe there are a few factors that could be contributing to the shift. One theory is that climate change is causing changes in wind patterns, pushing tornado activity further east. Another is that improvements in tornado detection and reporting are simply revealing more tornadoes in areas previously considered less prone to them.

Which areas are considered in the “new” Tornado Alley? 

According to AccuWeather meteorologists, Tornado Alley has moved from the Plains to the Southeast and parts of the lower Mississippi River Valley over the last few decades. The shift is the most visible when you compare how many tornadoes have occurred over a 35-year period from 1985 to 2019 and from 1950 to 1984.


What are the implications of the shift?

The shift in tornado activity has significant implications for many cities and communities across the U.S. Areas that were once considered relatively safe from tornadoes may now be at higher risk. Businesses in these areas should take additional precautions to protect their employees and property. Also, the shift in tornado activity could have economic implications. The costs associated with tornado damage can be significant, and areas more prone to tornadoes may experience higher insurance premiums or more difficulty obtaining insurance coverage. Check with your insurance provider to see if adding AccuWeather SkyGuard® Warnings service can lower your monthly premiums. 

What can be done to prepare for the shift?

Businesses and communities must be prepared for the possibility of tornado activity, regardless of location. Consider creating a disaster plan for your business, stocking up on emergency supplies, and staying informed about weather conditions in your area. Cities and communities can also prepare for the shift in tornado activity by updating building codes to include tornado-resistant construction materials, investing in weather risk mitigation services and establishing emergency response plans.

How can AccuWeather For Business help your business better prepare?

AccuWeather For Business can help your organization better prepare by providing exclusive and advanced warnings and access to one-on-one consultations with a storm warning meteorologist before, during, and after severe weather. When tornadoes are in the forecast, AccuWeather provides 16 minutes of advance notice compared to an average of 8 minutes from other sources. Plus, get access to a team of expert severe weather meteorologists watching out for your business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

 >>READ MORE: When minutes matter: how to plan for and respond to a SkyGuard Tornado Warning

Want to learn more about how AccuWeather For Business can help your organization be better prepared for a tornado? Demo SkyGuard today.

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