CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When most people think of Tornado Alley, typically Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are the first to come to mind. What might surprise you though are which states lead the country in annual tornado fatalities.
Number one is Alabama, followed closely behind by Tennessee. In fairness, Kansas does still lead the nation in terms of the number of tornadoes they experience per unit area, so the reputation of tornadoes in the high plains is still well-deserved.
So why are more people dying from tornadoes in the Southeast? There are a number of reasons.
First, you can watch a storm coming for 30 or 40 miles in the plains. There are no hills, tall trees and dense foliage blocking your view. In addition to poor visibility, the southeast has more challenges. Many tornadoes in this part of the country are wrapped in rain and essentially hiding in what looks like a typical downpour.
Tornadoes in the southeast are also more likely to occur at night, which catches a lot of people by surprise while they're sleeping. And tornadoes are also more likely to occur during the winter months, again, catching people off guard since they're not conditioned to expect tornadoes during that time of year.
Look no further than the confirmed EF0 we had in the WBTV viewing area last week on February 24 in Chesterfield County.
So what's the good news? Well, this Spring, the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) will spread a research net across the southeast U.S. to learn more about our environmental factors and also how the public responds to severe weather messages.
For more information on the project, click here.