Students from the Summer Cohesion Program at Hendy Avenue Elementary School were featured in this week’s Weather Wisdom. The question from the second group was, “Why is there more than 100 tornadoes in Texas a year?”
According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, Texas experiences an average of 155 tornadoes a year; this is more than anywhere else in the United States. Texas is a part of Tornado Alley. Tornado Alley also includes Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and South Dakota. This area in the southern plains of central United States gets the name “Tornado Alley” because of the high number of tornadoes each year.
One reason why more tornadoes happen here more than anywhere else is it’s an area where we commonly see cold air colliding with warm air, a major ingredient for tornado development. A big change in temperatures tend to produce strong winds. Wind shear, increasing wind speed and change in direction, also helps with tornado development. Other ingredients include instability and moisture. The Gulf of Mexico is a big supplier for low level moisture. Low level moisture means high dew points, which helps promote instability. Also, a lifting mechanism is needed. In the plains, this is where we commonly see lifting mechanisms such as low pressure and fronts.