Storm Chasing Fever - Blog - Wisconsin has more Tornadoes than Oklahoma?
Wisconsin has more Tornadoes than Oklahoma?
May 07, 2010
The state of Oklahoma has had less tornadoes than Wisconsin so far this year. Say again? Yes, you would think having Oklahoma located in the heart of tornado alley would beat Wisconsin, yet Wisconsin has had more tornadoes so far in 2010. As of May 6, 2010 the tornado count for Wisconsin stands at five. Last Tuesday, two additional tornadoes were confirmed near Lake Winnebago by the National Weather Service office in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The average tornado count for the state of Wisconsin is 21 per year with the most amount occurring in June.
I was looking at this years totals and was surprised to see Oklahoma with a tornado count of three. There is some explanation as most of the tornadoes have occurred in the Dixie Alley, a secondary tornado alley, across Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. So speaking, Wisconsin has had more tornadoes so far and raises the question, why aren't we considered tornado alley? This hasn't been the first time Wisconsin finished ahead of Oklahoma in yearly tornado counts. Wisconsin outran Oklahoma in 2005 with a staggering 62 tornadoes, including the state record outbreak of 27 tornadoes on August 18th. In 2002, Wisconsin had finished out the year with 26 tornadoes while Oklahoma had 18 confirmed tornadoes.
So why isn't Wisconsin considered tornado alley? The answer is simple. There are more tornadoes concentrated across the southern plains than any other area in the U.S. and the world for that matter. Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas are in the hot zone for tornado frequency. For example, in 2003 Oklahoma had 78 tornado reports while Wisconsin had 14. That's 5 1/2 times the amount of what Wisconsin had for the 2003 year. While Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois have tornadoes, they aren't as frequent in concentration compared to the plain states. March, April and May are huge months for tornado production across the plains because the warm moist air from the gulf of Mexico and warm, dry air from the desert southwest clash with the cool, dry air from Canada. This causes the jet stream to become more powerful over this region that brings storm systems that cross the southern plains producing many bouts of severe weather. June through August, the jet stream retreats north and weakens as the cold air is pushed back into Canada.
Starting next week there is a good chance of severe weather across Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. This will increase the number of tornadoes across Oklahoma which will probably surpass Wisconsin's total.