What caused the massive tornadoes in the Midwest this week?

The Midwest United States is known as “tornado alley”. Here is found a unique combination of conditions – the movement of frontal systems move and the closeness to water. A tornado is formed when two different air masses meet. When a polar air mass meets a tropical warm air mass, severe weather occurs. Where the masses meet is called a ‘dryline’ and extreme updrafts combined with wind shears begin to rotate.

On May 24 & 25, the Midwest suffered devastating tornadoes once again, this time more than 14 tornadoes were reported in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois. Near Chapman, Kansas, a half mile wide tornado touched down and remained on the ground for over an hour and destroyed 25 homes, flipped cars and trucks, and downed power lines. Miraculously no one was injured or killed. Winds were reported to reach 180 mph.

A tornado that hit Geneseo, Illinois resulted in a barn being thrown onto a road, a roof was lifted off a house, a semi was toppled over on the I74, and a roof was blown off a church in East Galesburg. More than 5000 homes were without power.

These storms are always, to some degree, predictable, but the danger they pose regardless of warning is something to be taken seriously and planned for ahead of time. Wynnewood, Oklahoma faced this issue with little time to prepare and the severity was largely unexpected at this time of the year. Two lives were lost in Wynnewood.

 

 

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