Where is Tornado Alley?

The central part of the United States is known as "Tornado Alley" because each year more tornadoes occur in this area than in any other area of the United States.

Tornado Alley covers all of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, and part of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming.

The Central Plains provide three requirements necessary for tornado formation:

  • Violent thunderstorms that are formed by cool dry air from the north and the warm, humid Gulf of Mexico air
  • Low level shifting winds
  • Very little competition from nearby storms

It is the unique combination of atmospheric "parameters" -- a large moisture supply, low-level wind shear, a drying and cooling middle atmosphere, and features, such as the dryline and a convective cap -- that turn the plains into a tornado alley.

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