Weather Watch: Why Tornado Alley is so prone to severe weather

Over in the USA, the severe thunderstorm season is well underway.
Latest weather news with MetDesk in WendoverLatest weather news with MetDesk in Wendover
Latest weather news with MetDesk in Wendover

These storms can bring enormous hail (the size of grapefruits, and even bigger on occasions), flash floods and tornadoes capable of wiping entire towns off the map, with gusts sometimes reaching 300mph.

The region most at risk from these storms is colloquially known as “Tornado Alley”, which is broadly speaking a line of states from Texas in the south, all the way up to South Dakota in the north.

The main reason for this area being so prone is that it is often at the battleground of three air masses during the spring.

To the south is warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, to the west we get hot, dry desert air, while to the north we see cold air lingering from winter.

These differences in air masses, combined with the moisture, can lead to a very unstable atmosphere, and give thunderstorms of an intensity seldom seen anywhere else on the planet.

On average, 80 people are killed by tornadoes every year in the US, with 1500 injuries.

Many of the casualties are concentrated in tornado “outbreaks”, where numerous violent tornadoes are spawned over a series of days.

While the UK rarely sees storms capable of producing notable damage, a surprising stat is that our country sees more tornadoes per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world.

Thankfully the Aylesbury Vale area won’t be seeing anything quite as violent in the coming days.

However, we are still likely to see some heavy showers, which may indeed contain a few rumbles of thunder on Thursday afternoon.

Into the weekend, the cool, changeable weather is expected to continue with rain spreading in from the southwest.

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