Research Shows Shifts In Tornado Alley
TULSA, Oklahoma -
The devastating EF-4 tornado that struck Catoosa in 1993 was over a generation ago, which makes it easy for many people to fall into a false sense of security. But the reality is Tulsa is vulnerable to a major tornado strike.
In fact, the probability is growing for a tornado between EF-3 and EF-5 to strike the city for two specific reasons. The first being the city has grown a lot since 1993. It now covers more than 280 square miles, making it a bigger target.
In the past four years, three EF-2 tornadoes have struck the immediate Tulsa area. Tornado trends over the past 60 years show the developed part of Tulsa now has at least a 3 percent chance to be struck by an EF-3 or stronger tornado in any given year.
The other reason for heightened concern relates to climate change. In a recent study co-written by Harold Brooks, a scientist at NOAA's National Severe Storm Laboratory in Norman, Tornado Alley may be shifting east.
“Both the changes in the environments and the changes in the reports tell a similar story of a great probability of tornadoes occurring in the mid-south region,” Brooks says.
“People in Oklahoma still need to prepare for the fact tornadoes can affect them and they need to be ready.”
Should Tulsa find itself squarely in the middle of Tornado Alley later this century, then its position could soon be similar to that of Oklahoma City, a place that is certainly no stranger to violent twisters.
The study also indicates that our tornado season is happening earlier, which means now is the time of year to prepare for our volatile storm season.
Emergency officials in Tulsa regularly walk through plans on how they’d respond, and you can always count our own weather team to keep you prepared and ahead of the storm should a violent tornado come our way.