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Tornadoes are twisting masses of air that can do tremendous damage in a relatively small area; they form from thunderstorms

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Not Kansas
Teacher Contributed

We are not in Kansas anymore!


Determining the true tornado alley

Student Exploration

Have you ever wanted to star in Storm Chasers?

Where would you travel to have the highest probability of seeing a tornado? Most people would travel to the appropriately named, Tornado Alley, that spans the states of the Great Plains. Or is it appropriately named? According to recent data collection, scientists and geographers might want to change the area’s famous title. Check it out:

Should Tornado Alley be redefined? Why do most tornadoes occur in this region?

Extension Investigation

  1. Use the data on the NOAA Tornado Climatology site (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/tornadoes.html) to build your own case. Try to answer the following questions:
    1. Where do most tornadoes occurring?
    2. Why do you think that they are occurring there? What aspects of that area foster tornadoes?
    3. When do most tornadoes form? Why?
    4. What region do you think should be entitled to the “Tornado Alley” nickname? Why?
  2. How do scientists detect tornadoes? Other than through essentially a game of telephone where one area reports damage and then the next area hears of it and ducks for cover, scientists have developed a new radar system called Dual Polarization Radar that can tell meteorologists more.
    1. How does Dual Polarization work? http://youtu.be/M7FVIbFLxfs
    2. How does it help meteorologists predict tornadoes? http://youtu.be/HXWPltFHRAA
  3. When a tornado does ravage an area, the damage is classified using the Fujita Scale. Use the following NOVA interactive(http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/rate-tornado-damage.html) to observe, analyze, and rate the damage produced by actual tornadoes.

Resources Cited

John D. Cox. Discovery News. http://news.discovery.com/earth/redefining-tornado-alleys.html

Dr. Greg Forbes. The Weather Channel. http://www.weather.com/outlook/weather-news/news/articles/what-where-is-tornado-alley-forbes_2011-04-14

NOAA. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/tornadoes.html


ARM Climate Research Facility. YouTube. http://youtu.be/M7FVIbFLxfs

NOVA. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/rate-tornado-damage.html

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