If you've ever seen the movie Twister then it's likely that you're also familiar with the term 'Tornado Alley.' While the boundaries of this theoretical alley are not clearly defined, for many years, experts believed that it was here that the most tornadoes spawned. In recent years, however, that logic has proven inaccurate; the truth is that tornadoes can happen whenever the conditions are right.

Related: 25 Things We Forgot About Tornadoes In The U.S.

Twister semi-glorified the notion of storm chasing by adding excitement and thrill to these monster storms. While the movie was accurate in some instances, such as the explanation of the Fujita scale as well as the damage that a tornado on that scale can cause, there were many Hollywood liberties - such as surviving being swirled around inside an EF5 tornado. And now, experts are saying that the logic behind Tornado Alley is flawed - and while it served as the setting for the movie, it's believed that, now, the alley is actually shifting east, and may not even exist at all.


Tornado Alley Is A Semi-Dangerous Mapping System

Back in the 1990s, it was firmly believed that Tornado Alley was a legitimate way of mapping out where the worst - and most - tornadoes could occur. This took up the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, North, and South Dakota. This midwest strip of land was responsible for producing some of the most intense storms to date - until recent years.

The problem with this idea is that incredibly powerful tornadoes have touched down in many southern states, as well, and the surrounding states that are left out of Tornado Alley. This breeds some hubris in regard to expecting a tornado and being prepared, which many people who lived outside of Tornado Alley were not. According to the Washington Post, by April of last year, more than 150 tornadoes had already touched down across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas.

The Deadliest Tornado Outbreak In Meteorological History

On April 27th, 2011, the U.S. saw a record number of tornadoes in one day. By the end of it all, more than 350 tornadoes had touched down across Mississippi and Alabama. What began as a string of thunderstorms gave way to rapid-fire tornadoes that ranged in intensity on the Fujita scale. By the afternoon, the chaotic nature of these storms was not nearly over - the atmosphere once again became overly charged through a process known as reloading, producing tornadoes that registered up to EF5 in strength.

These storms were unbelievably powerful and their intensity was only enhanced by the fact that they didn't let up, and many traveled hundreds of miles, leaving nothing but destruction behind them. When it was over, the extreme weather lasted for three days in total, spanned a distance of eight states, and tragically took the lives of 324 people.

Where, And When, Can Tornadoes Occur?

Science dictates that the conditions for tornadoes to touch down can happen anywhere east of the continental divide. However, the most southern states are now considered the most likely place for them to spawn - particularly in Mississippi. It's now believed that there's no actual 'alley,' and that tornadoes can, and do, occur throughout the midwest and down into the eastern southern states.

The tornadoes that spawn in the Deep South are those responsible for rapid destruction as their speeds are usually faster than what's seen in the midwest. Due to the constant hot and humid temperatures of the south, tornadoes are able to move at a faster clip and also produce longer trails than those in the midwest.

What Are The Signs Of A Tornado?

The lead time on a tornado warning is usually around 13 to 15 minutes but we still aren't able to predict exactly where one will touch down, which is what makes them so dangerous. Before a tornado is formed, a few key atmospheric changes will be noticeable - but this is not always 100% the case. If a tornado is about to touch down, there might be a sudden unusual, and even eerie, silence and the air will feel stagnant and still. If the sky has a green hue to it, this could be another warning sign that a tornado is about to touch down.

Once a funnel is being formed, it's not always visible without debris - therefore any sound that resembles that of a freight train, large hail with no rain, and a wall of clouds are all fairly solid indicators that something is coming. The more humidity that's in the air, the more coloring a tornado will have which is why it often appears gray or off-white. In the absence of humidity, you'll also have an absence of fog and water droplets, which means a tornado - which is just wind - can be colorless and 'invisible.'

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