New results of a tornado study out of the University of Alabama Huntsville show that Tornado Alley may be in our very own backyards.
"When we first got our initial results and it showed a bulls-eye over AR, MS, and AL, we were surprised," said Dr. Tim Coleman, a researcher at UAH and severe weather expert for Fox6.
It has long been understood that we live in a region prone to severe weather known as Dixie Alley, but the Great Plains has always been viewed as the number one region for tornado activity. Coleman and Dr. Grady Dixon at Mississippi State University used a sample of significant tornadoes going back to the first year the Fujita scale was used in real-time, back in 1973, to determine which area gets hit more often.
"We went through a number of ways of testing the data. We thought April 27th data might be biasing the results, so we took that out and the results changed very little," said Coleman.
Coleman's analysis leads him to believe Dixie Alley is more at risk for tornados than the Great Plains.
"The primary thing is that Dixie Alley is not simply an extension of Tornado Alley, but it is the primary tornado Alley," said Coleman
He attributes the change to newer advances like Doppler Radar and Skyvision cameras which help detect tornados better. Coleman says without these tools in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, many went undetected, especially weaker ones, due to terrain and land cover.
Despite the results, he says the findings shouldn't be cause for extra worry.
"Even in the highest risk areas, the chance of getting hit by a tornado on any given year is still about ½ of 1%," said Coleman.
While 0.5% is still a figure you do not like to hear, it's a risk we've lived with for a long time and prepare for each year.