Tornado Alley's Most Devastating Years
“Tornado Alley” is the nickname given to the south-central region of the United States, where tornadoes tend to form at high frequency. Tornado Alley is not to be confused with Dixie Alley, which comprises the Gulf Coast area and also endures high frequency of tornadoes later in the year. It is important to note that tornadoes can happen anywhere in the United States, and at any time of year.
We were reminded of that fact yesterday. Tornadoes tore through Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio, killing one person and injuring 130 others, and severe weather in the U.S. sent tornado warnings as far as east as New York and New Jersey. So far in 2019, there have been 31 fatalities in the United States from tornadoes, 23 of them in Alabama, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. Last year, there were no tornado-related deaths in the so-called Tornado Alley states of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota. The last time that happened was 2005.
Approximately 1,200 tornadoes form in the United States each year. More than 75% are considered weak, classified as EF-0 to EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Tornado Damage Intensity Scale. Only about 5% are on the upper end of the intensity scale, EF-3 to EF-5, and are considered violent. An even smaller percentage reach the maximum level on the scale, EF-5, characterized by wind speed of 200 mph or higher and severe destruction.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed for Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota — the states within what is considered as Tornado Alley — the total injuries and fatalities in every year since 1950 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. Data for 2018 is current through August. Tornadoes are among the worst natural disasters in every state.