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STUDY: Tornado Alley is beginning to shift eastward

Research shows an increase in tornadic activity in the southeast.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texans are no strangers to tornadoes - Texas is located within the infamous Tornado Alley, which consists of states within the Great Plains.

According to the National Weather Service, Texas had the largest annual average number of tornadoes between 1992 and 2021. But, recent research has detected a possible shift in the location of Tornado Alley. 

Credit: NOAA

In 2018, researchers at Northern Illinois University at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma conducted a study on tornado frequency trends within the United States. They found that Tornado Alley appeared to slightly shift eastward.

Credit: Climate Central and KVUE

Their research utilized an index known as a "significant tornado parameter," (STP) which is used to help determine if ingredients within the atmosphere are present for tornado formation.

In 2022, researchers at The City University of New York studied large tornado outbreaks (LTOs). Researchers defined an LTO as a day when a category EF-2 or higher tornado impacted at least eight U.S. counties. In their study, they compared two 31-year periods, and found between the years of 1950 and 1980 that Arkansas had some of the densest clusters of LTOs. Between 1989 and 2019, the densest clusters had shifted to Tennessee.

While these findings might bring relief to Texans, that's not the case for residents in the southeast United States.

Credit: Climate Central

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 30-50% of homes in many counties across the mid-South and southeast are mobile homes. Tornado deaths are 10 times more likely for those in mobile homes than those in permanent homes, according to Climate Central.

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