Tornado Alley — a twister-rich region associated with the Great Plains — is shifting eastward, a recent study has found.
More tornadoes are occurring in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and parts of Ohio and Michigan, according to the study, published Wednesday in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science.
Lead author Victor Gensini, who teaches atmospheric sciences at Northern Illinois University, fears a shift to the east could prove catastrophic as states there are more densely populated.
“More folks are generally at risk because of that eastward shift,” Gensini said.
This astonishing footage captures a sky filled with debris as a rare tornado hits Quebec, Canada – and then the eerie scene of destruction it left in its wake https://t.co/PQJu1upDqI pic.twitter.com/k8oxdbXyFv
— ITV News (@itvnews) September 22, 2018
Gensini explains that the Great Plains is becoming drier, meaning the environment isn’t as conducive to spawning tornadoes.
Twisters like to form along the “dry line” where there are more thunderstorms because there’s dry air to the west and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to the east.
That “dry line” is moving east.
“This is what you would expect in a climate change scenario, we just have no way of confirming it at the moment,” Gensini said.
The paper concludes: At this point, it is unclear whether the observed trends in tornado environment and report frequency are due to natural variability or being altered by anthropogenic forcing on the climate system.
Seeing as there’s zero evidence supporting anthropogenic forcing on the climate system, any change in tornado activity can be attributed to the former.
Twisters and the GSM
The most violent tornadoes come from supercells, large thunderstorms that have winds already in rotation.
About one in a thousand storms becomes a supercell, and one in five or six supercells spawns off a tornado.
Tornado season follows the jet stream—as it swings farther north, so does tornado activity.
As the jet stream shifts to a more meridional flow (north-south) during this Grand Solar Minimum, twisters are expected to shift with it, increasingly popping up in unusual regions.
GSM = increase in atmospheric compression events