ATLANTA -- We all remember the EF3 tornado that hit Adairsville just last year, and who could forget the EF4 tornado that devastated Ringgold two years ago.
As Georgians, we know that severe weather, especially tornadoes, are a threat to our state every year. However, what many of us were taught as children, and even as adults, as to where the most tornadoes, and also the largest, occur has changed, and it may surprise you.
The "traditional" Tornado Alley stretches from Texas all the way up to South Dakota. Dixie Alley is the not quite as bad, but still important "mini" Tornado Alley. However, in the last 40 years those maps changed ... a lot!
A new study done by the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and published by the American Meteorological Society shows that very little of the original Tornado Alley is still a part of the NEW Tornado Alley.
The study focused specifically on F2 strength tornadoes or higher. Because those are the ones that cause the most damage along with injuries and fatalities. They also looked at how long the tornado stayed on the ground, because the longer it does, the more damage it causes. The research found that Deep South tornadoes typically have longer paths than those in the Great Plains because they actually travel at a faster rate.
The study only did the last 40 years. It started in 1973, after the Fujita scale was first implemented, but stopped in 2010. They took out 2011 for fear the super outbreak would skew the results. But that's what makes this even more interesting. Even WITHOUT the super outbreak of 2011,when the Southeast was anihilated by over 300 tornadoes, the new tornado map never changed.
So why is this important? Very little research money is coming to the southeast at this point to study tornadoes, it's all funneled into the Great Plains. As tornado alley begins to shift closer to Georgia, maybe we need to do a little more in terms of research right here at home.
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