Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why is Arkansas tornado alley?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 9:45 AM

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The Vox website has an article on the conditions that cause the U.S. to be hit by more tornadoes than other countries and why the midsection of the country is the most-tornado prone. Arkansas is on the edge of the most dangerous terrain, cold comfort after the latest killer storm to hit our own tornado alley.

The article included the map showing incidence of tornadoes, which actually puts Arkansas mostly on the edge of the most tornado-prone part of the country. But close enough. When the Weather Service storm assessment team gets done, I hope they can help me dig up a scatter map or other similar tool to highlight the most tornado-prone parts of Arkansas. My experience over 40 years would put it on a a diagonal line roughly tracking I-30 and U.S. Highway 67 from Texarkiana to Clay County in the far northeast. With plenty of outliers, of course. My first tornado coverage was in 1974, when a tornado blasted Forrest City. Four people were killed, a miracle in that the damage included a collapsed Walmart that was open for business.

Arkansas averages 33 tornadoes a year, says the Weather Service in this detailed assessment them here.

Also, some good tornado history at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

And also, reader Don Dailey to the rescue with a link to research from the University of Akron on "tornado alleys," where the most dangerous (E3-E5) tornadoes have been noted. It puts Arkansas in the "Dixie alley," with the most intense tornadoes — more or less along the diagonal line I described. The Dixie alley is the worst for the biggest twisters.

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