Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tornado Alley in the Carolinas?

When you think about tornado alley, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska probably come to mind. Based on a recent research study from the University of Akron, we may have to think again.

Image courtesy of Michael Frates, University of Akron

That research by Michael Frates, a graduate assistant, took a look at long track tornadoes (20 miles or longer) of EF3 strength or stronger.

Image courtesy of Michael Frates, University of Akron

His results show that an area classified as "Dixie Alley" including northern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama has just as many if not more strong, long track tornadoes compared to the region traditionally referred to as "Tornado Alley."

An area of eastern North Carolina classified as "Carolina Alley" follows closely behind "Tornado Alley" and "Dixie Alley." Take a look at the image below from the National Weather Service of all tornado tracks in the Carolinas since 1950.

You'll notice an area just south and east of Raleigh closely following the I-95 corridor that has more frequent long track tornadoes. In fact, there area few examples of devastating tornadoes in this area in recent memory. An outbreak of tornadoes less than two years ago in November 2008 included an EF3 tornado that caused destruction like this near Elm City, NC....

Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service - Raleigh.

Several other tornadoes were reported that same night including one in Kenly...

The infamous Carolinas Outbreak of 1984 also occurred in this same area. That was one of the most deadly tornado outbreaks in North Carolina history. Fifty seven people were killed in North and South Carolina. An estimated 800 were injured.

All of this just goes to remind us that deadly severe weather can and does happen here in North Carolina. While we enjoy nice spring weather, our weather isn't always this nice. It's best to be prepared and know what to do for the next time our weather takes a violent turn.

Lee Ringer

No comments: