Peak tornado activity is occurring earlier in the heart of “Tornado Alley”

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Tornado frequency may increase as the factors that contribute to severe convection are altered by a changing climate. Attributing changes in tornado frequency to observed global climate change is complicated because observational effort has increased over time, but studies of the seasonal distribution of tornado activity may avoid sampling biases. We demonstrate that peak tornado activity has shifted 7 days earlier in the year over the past six decades in the central and southern US Great Plains, the area with the highest global incidence of tornado activity. Results are largely unrelated to large-scale climate oscillations, and observed climate trends cannot fully account for observations, which suggest that changes to regional climate dynamics should be further investigated. Tornado preparedness efforts at individual to national levels should be cognizant of the trend toward earlier peak tornado activity across the heart of “Tornado Alley”.




Long, John A., and Paul Stoy. "Peak tornado activity is occurring earlier in the heart of “Tornado Alley”." Geophysical Research Letters 41, no. 17 (2014): 6259-6264.
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