I guess the best definition for Tornado Alley is the location of where the strongest tornadoes occur most frequently. The land in central US produces the most tornadoes mainly because it is flat which allows cold dry polar air from Canada to meet the warm, moist tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico and it is along this front where the two meet that most tornado’s occur.
Living in Arkansas I know first hand the deadly strengths of tornadoes, having been in several I have seen just what type of damage they can do. Just imagine a huge spinning cloud filled with dust and debris with wind speed of 300 mph, coming at you, blowing up and ripping apart everything in it path. You can see some weird things after a tornado, like broom straws bored into tree trunks, but mainly you see destruction and people’s lives destroyed.
A tornado begins in a severe thunderstorm called a super cell, which generally last longer than a regular thunderstorm. The wind starts to swirl and forms a funnel. The air in the funnel swirls faster and faster and start sucking up dust and debris into it.
Most deaths from tornadoes are not from the rotating winds, but from the debris that is rotating inside the funnel. Wind speeds in a tornado are even higher than the wind speed of a hurricane. The difference is that a hurricane causes more damage over a larger area.
States included in Tornado Alley are Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. But tornadoes can happen in any state if the weather is right.
Tornado season does not have a start and end date, if the conditions are right they can happen anytime through out the year, depending on where you live in the US. Where I live we start looking for them at the end of winter and early spring, with May being the prime month. The further north you live the more common they become in the late summer.
In the US there are about 1000 reported tornadoes every year. People living in Tornado Alley know the danger and most are like me. During this time of the year we keep a weary eye towards the sky and our ears focus for the alarms and with a prayer in our hearts we hope that this is not the year that they get us.