Year of 2017

Storm near Lamar, Colorado

If you’ve ever lived in an area where tornadoes occasionally strike, you may recognize this angry-looking sky as the potential start of something more dangerous than a run-of-the-mill thunderstorm. Lamar, Colorado—where this photo was taken—is on the western edge of the region in the US known as Tornado Alley, a wide band of the Midwest where tornadoes are more likely to occur than anywhere else in our country. The four-month stretch from March through June is often called ‘tornado season’ by both residents of Tornado Alley, and the scientists who study the violent funnel clouds.

Tornado Alley is a colloquial term for the area of the United States where tornadoes are most frequent. The term was first used in 1952 as the title of a research project to study severe weather in areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, and Minnesota. It is largely a media-driven term although tornado climatologists distinguish peaks in activity in certain areas and storm chasers have long recognized the Great Plains tornado belt.