How do tornadoes form? Anatomy of storms in Tornado Alley

Oklahoma is seeing its share of tornado activity this spring, with dozens reported in one night, and more forecast in the coming months.

What is the science behind these devastating storms?

How are tornadoes formed?

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How do tornadoes form?

Tornadoes can form anywhere the right ingredients come together, but they form most often in the eastern half of the United States, when dry winds blowing from high above the Rockies collide with moisture-rich, low-level winds blowing from the Gulf of Mexico blowing up. .

That interaction creates wind shear – an essential ingredient for tornado formation. The other two essential ingredients are lift and instability.

Why are there so many tornadoes in Oklahoma? Where is Tornado Alley?

While Oklahomans may feel especially connected to tornado season, the state has not made the top 10 for average number of tornadoes per year in recent years.

In recent years, more tornadoes have struck states east of Oklahoma, knocking Oklahoma out of the top 10 most tornadoes.

According to the Storm Prediction Center, Oklahoma tends to see the most tornadoes during the months of April and May.

The state averages 13 tornadoes in April and 34 in May. By comparison, Texas averages 25 tornadoes in April and 38 in May, and Kansas averages 12 tornadoes in April and 37 in May.

Tornadoes by state: How does Oklahoma’s tornado season compare to other states?

Can a tornado really pick up a cow?