January’s Tornado Threat is Highest in the South and There Have Been Large Outbreaks

January’s reputation for bone-chilling cold usually doesn’t make you think of tornadoes ripping up homes and trees, but they happen most years, and sometimes there can be large outbreaks. The South is the region most likely to experience tornadoes in January, and occasionally tornadoes can spin up farther north. This so-called Dixie Alley is most…

Chicago is not tornado-proof. Here’s why.

Despite being known as the Windy City, Chicago has developed a false reputation as being impervious to tornadoes. In its history, Chicago has seen very few tornadoes compared with the rest of Illinois, which, as a whole, sees dozens of tornadoes annually and has endured the nation’s deadliest tornado, the 1925 Tri-State tornado that left…

Tornado activity shift puzzles scientists

WEST LAFAYETTE — Tornado season, generally spanning from March to June, is upon us. There were more than 130 reports of tornadoes across the country during the last two weeks of May, and earlier this year, 23 people were killed in a cluster of tornadoes near the border of Georgia and Alabama. Although tornado deaths…

Supercell: It’s the king of thunderstorms

Tornadoes are one of the most feared weather events on Earth. These quick-forming and normally short-lived cyclones tend to emerge from strongly rotating thunderstorms known as supercells. Driven by a long-lasting tower of rising air, these storms can unleash some of the fastest surface winds on Earth. Rising as much as 16.1 kilometers (10 miles)…

One day, 199 tornadoes

In 2011, an outbreak—not of disease, but of tornadoes—slammed through a large swath of the Southern and Eastern U.S. The region saw 64 individual twisters on April 25, and another 50 the next day, but the worst still lay ahead. A head-spinning 199 tornadoes touched down on April 27, killing 316 and injuring almost 3,000.…

Surprising discoveries on how tornadoes form and how climate change could make them stronger

Tuesday’s very rare and strong December tornado in Washington state comes as scientists are learning more than ever about how tornadoes form and why they seem to be growing more powerful. One of those studies says your eyes are deceiving you — tornadoes do not drop down from the clouds. In fact, it’s likely the…