Tornado Alley: Which Towns Are Most at Risk?
Tornadoes are among the most destructive natural disasters in America. In the central United States, the region is known as Tornado Alley, which runs from central Texas up to Nebraska and Iowa, and across to western Ohio. Tornado Alley is an area in which tornadic activity is most common, with many tornadoes touching down in the area every year. This means that some towns in Tornado Alley are at higher risk of being hit than others. This article explores Tornado Alley and highlights the towns most at risk.
Why is Tornado Alley at Risk?
Tornadoes form in conditions of extreme atmospheric instability. When warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico meets cold, dry air from the north, it creates a volatile mix in the atmosphere. The unstable air then forms a rotating column, and when that column touches the ground, it becomes a tornado. Tornado Alley is at a higher risk of tornadic activity due to its geography. The warm, wet air from the Gulf of Mexico collides with the dry air from the Rocky Mountains, which provides a boost of energy that creates the perfect environment for tornadoes.
Towns Most at Risk of Tornadic Activity
There are several cities and towns in Tornado Alley that are more susceptible to tornadic activity. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the following places are the most at risk:
1. Moore, Oklahoma
Moore, Oklahoma, has been hit by a number of deadly tornadoes, including one in 1999, which killed 36 people, and one in 2013, that killed 24 people. The 2013 tornado was classified as an EF5, the highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which measures the severity of a tornado. Moore has a history of tornado activity, and so its residents have become accustomed to being prepared for tornados.
2. Wichita Falls, Texas
Wichita Falls is another town that’s at risk of tornadic activity. An F4 tornado hit the area in 1964, causing millions of dollars in damages and killing 7 people. More recently, in 2017, several tornadoes touched down in the area. Wichita Falls has developed an early warning system, which has helped residents prepare for imminent tornadic activity.
3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City has been hit by several EF5 tornadoes, including one in 2013 that killed 9 people. The city has developed an early warning siren system for its residents and has helped build tornado shelters. Preparing for tornadoes is something the city takes seriously, and residents often practice what to do in case of a tornado.
4. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa has experienced several tornadoes, including one in 2017 that caused severe damage in the area. The city has taken measures to prepare for tornadoes with an emphasis on awareness and education of its residents. Tulsa aims to be among the best-prepared cities in terms of tornadic activity.
5. Greensburg, Kansas
Greensburg was hit by an EF5 tornado in 2007, killing 11 people and destroying most of the town. After the disaster, Greensburg was rebuilt as one of the greenest and most sustainable towns in America. With the latest technology and sustainable development practices, the town is resolute to sustain the damaged caused by tornados.
6. Joplin, Missouri
Joplin is another town that has been hit by an EF5 tornado. In 2011, an EF5 tornado caused a severe level of damage in the town, killed 161 people, and injuring several thousands. Joplin has tried to raise awareness of its tornadic activity to citizens – and focused on establishing robust warning systems.
Tornadic activity is a risk for anyone living in Tornado Alley. However, some towns are more at risk than others. Being prepared is essential regardless of how frequently a town may experience tornadic activity. But, for the towns at higher risk, it is doubly important to take necessary precautions. An effective early warning system, a plan of action, and knowledge of what to do during a tornado are crucial in minimizing the impact of these destructive natural disasters. Being prepared and knowing how to react when a tornado hits can help save lives, and therefore, it is something that all residents in Tornado Alley should prioritize.