LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– New research shows that tornadoes are becoming more prevalent in the Eastern part of the country, including Kentucky and other surrounding states.
Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas are all states that many associate with tornadoes. But, a new study led by a professor of atmospheric sciences at Northern Illinois University, explains there might be a shift in the weather.
“It would seem that they’re shifting a little bit further to the east. All driven by the path of where these storms are setting up,” said LEX 18 Meteorologist Jill Szwed.
This year alone, Kentucky has already seen 36 confirmed tornadoes, which when you stack the Commonwealth up with other states that typically head the tornado count, Kentucky is among the leaders.
“This study simply states it’s hard to explain. They don’t know why there needs to be more research done. We have been seeing more significant storms, we’ve been seeing storms driving further to the south,” said Szwed.
In the past few decades, researchers have seen a higher concentration of tornadoes in the East and the South, causing them to name a second tornado alley, Dixie Alley. As the report states, there’s been a higher concentration, even in states like Kentucky and other surrounding states. Although Kentucky is more mountainous than states like Kansas, which is full of plains and known for tornadoes, Szwed said that the storms seem to care less and less about where they land.
“It is to be expected that we see more tornadoes out to the west as those tornadoes track closer to the hills, even of the Bluegrass, we start to see those severe thunderstorms breaking up, losing a little bit of their oomph. But it’s still not to say that severe thunderstorms shy away from the hills,” said Szwed.
One other concern highlighted in the report is that as these storms move east, there’s a higher risk of destruction than in the past, due to twisters hitting higher populated areas.
As the fall tornado season approaches, the LEX 18 StormTracker team wants to remind the community to review their tornado emergency plan in getting to the lowest level of their home. They also advise downloading the StormTracker Weather App to receive the tornado warnings in real time.