What you need to know: There have been a few studies done about the changing frequency of tornadoes and tornado-favorable environments in the country, showing a notable shift to the east for the most active regions. So is tornado alley shifting? A big reason why tornado environments seem to be less common on the Plains, aka traditional Tornado Alley, could be because June has seen tornado activity plummet.
A more inconsistent season: Overall, activity on the Plains (classified as OK/TX/KS/CO/NE for this video) seems to have plummeted for June over the last decade. Typically this has been because a ridge of high pressure sets in very quickly over the middle of the country by the end of May. Historically, June has been a month that is on-par if not more active than April, so taking a month away from the peak of tornado season can mean seasons are more inconsistent and quieter overall. This doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be tornadoes on the Plains in June though.
Will it last? This could be a temporary blip in the arc of history of tornado counts. There is still a lot we do not know about long-term trends for tornadoes — though some of the shifts we are seeing do fit within models of what a warmer planet might look like. While fewer tornadoes for anywhere is good news typically, in an area that experiences much of its rain during storm season — quiet storm seasons can lead to major droughts over the Plains. It seems to be two-sides of the same coin.
Further Reading: Check out this paper by Vittorio A. Gensini & Harold E. Brooks entitled “Spatial trends in United States tornado frequency“. This is a scientific examination of if tornado alley shifting is occuring.
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