Tornados, also known as “Twisters,” are among the most powerful, spontaneous, destructive and terrifying storms on planet earth. Tornados are violent storms consisting of high winds that form a funnel of twisting air. Most tornadoes have wind speeds of 110 miles per hour or less, are about 250 feet long, and travel a few miles before dissipating. However, the most extreme and powerful storms (dubbed “F5” twisters) can attain speeds of over 300 miles per hour, stretch two miles long, and remain on the ground for several dozen miles!
Tornados affect the United States more than any country on earth. According to some sources, America is the only place on earth that has ever experienced the devastating effects of F5 tornadoes. The reason for this is that the midlands of America are very flat and dry. Without mountain ranges or huge bodies of water to stop or slow down winds, these storms are able to build until they reach extremely strong and fast speeds. Interestingly, only a few states actually experience tornadoes. It is rare for them to touch down in the East and West coast states and, when they do, they are usually smaller in power (F1-F3). F4 and F5 storms generally only affect the midlands but they occur so frequently that a certain area in America has been nicknamed “Tornado Alley.”
“Tornado Alley” is a term used to describe an unofficial area in the midlands of the United States where powerful tornadoes frequently touch down and wreak havoc. Tornado Alley is generally considered to be the flatland areas between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. During the spring (especially in May when tornadoes are most frequent) warm and moist air comes into the midlands from the Gulf of Mexico. This warm air meets the cold and dry air that comes from Canada and this creates intense thunderstorms and winds that quickly escalate into “twisting storms.”
Anyone who has ever seen a tornado on TV knows how frightening and destructive they are. They can form virtually without warning and it is impossible to know what direction they will travel in. The storms move fast and destroy anything and everything in their path. Then they simply vanish leaving the sun shining and mass destruction in their wake. Although buildings in these regions have been built stronger, and communication systems have been put into place to get warnings out quicker, there is no way to stop twisters or completely protect communities from them.
Below is a list of five states that are considered to be part of “Tornado Alley.”