Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tornadoes Occurring Earlier in 'Tornado Alley'

A home destroyed by a tornado that struck Quapaw, Oklahoma on April 27, 2014. New research showing that peak tornado activity in the central and southern Great Plains is occurring earlier could help residents in the region be better prepared for severe weather. (Credit: National Weather Service in Tulsa, Oklahoma) Click to Enlarge.
Tornado records from Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas - an area of high tornado activity dubbed "Tornado Alley" -- show that peak tornado activity is starting and ending earlier than it did 60 years ago.

Peak tornado activity, which occurs in the region from early May to early July, has moved an average of seven days earlier in the year over the past six decades.  The study's authors, John Long and Paul Stoy in MSU's Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, observed the shift in tornado activity for all categories of tornadoes that occurred in the region from 1954 to 2009.

The research team published its findings last week in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The new research does not attribute the shift in tornado activity in the region to any single cause.  However, the earlier tornado activity seen in the study is in line with what could be expected in a warmer climate, the study's authors said.

Tornadoes Occurring Earlier in 'Tornado Alley'

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