Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: Texas, not Oklahoma, tops in tornadoes

A tornado passes south of Oklahoma City on May 20, devastating Moore, Okla., with winds that at times topped 200 miles per hour.

Associated Press

A tornado passes south of Oklahoma City on May 20, devastating Moore, Okla., with winds that at times topped 200 miles per hour.

Oklahoma fourth in tornadoes

A friend told me that Oklahoma gets more tornadoes than any other state. Is that correct?

Cold, dry air flowing east from the Rocky Mountains colliding with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, usually in spring, is the formula that makes the United States the tornado capital of the world. And most of those 1,250 tornadoes that hit the country each year happen in the Midwest.

Oklahoma is in that area that many people call Tornado Alley, and it ranks fourth among states in the average number of tornadoes per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.

Texas is the state that saw the most tornadoes in the period from 1991-2001, with an average of 155 a year. Kansas is second with an average of 96 a year, followed by Florida with 66 and Oklahoma with 62.

The top 10 is rounded out by Nebraska (57), Illinois (54), Colorado (53), Iowa (51), Minnesota (45) and Missouri (45).

Kansas is the state that sees the most violent tornadoes, an average of 3.1 per year, followed by Arkansas (2.9), Texas (2.8) and Tennessee and Oklahoma (2.7). The United States gets an average of 37.5 of these most destructive tornadoes annually. Florida gets less than 1 of these a year (0.4 annual average).

The states seeing the fewest tornadoes annually: Alaska and Rhode Island (0); Hawaii, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts (1); and Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey, West Virginia and Nevada (2).

The worst months for tornadoes are usually April, May and June. In 2012, 46.6 percent of all tornadoes in the United States occurred in those months. In 2011, 73.6 percent of tornadoes happened in April, May or June.

The worst tornado on record occurred on March 18, 1925, hitting Missouri, Illinois and Indiana and killing 2,025 people.

Friction destroys meteors

Why do meteors explode in the atmosphere?

Meteors and other space debris travel through the vacuum of space at extremely high speeds. When a meteor enters the Earth's atmosphere, it creates friction and pressure that cause the meteor to heat and glow before it explodes or shatters into smaller pieces, most often in the part of the atmosphere called the mesosphere.

Most meteors disintegrate before they reach Earth. The meteor that exploded about 12 to 15 miles over Russia on Feb. 15 likely was 55 to 65 feet in diameter and weighed about 10,000 tons.

NASA reported that the meteor exploded with the force of somewhere between 440 and 500 kilotons of TNT, or more than 30 to 40 times the energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Only small pieces have been recovered.

Q&A: Texas, not Oklahoma, tops in tornadoes 05/26/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 4:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Romano: C'mon Rick Baker, tell us how you really feel about Trump

    Local Government

    A brief timeline of presidential politics in St. Petersburg:

    Rick Baker, center,  waves to drivers while holding a sign that reads "Thank You" along with his family and supporters.
  2. In St. Petersburg mayor's race, Rick vs. Rick is also Rays vs. Rowdies

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — Maybe before the NFL's national anthem uproar you assumed professional sports were apolitical endeavors. You'd be dead wrong in the case of St. Petersburg's mayoral race.

    Rep. Janet Cruz D-Tampa, left, Rafaela Amador, Tampa Bay Rays Senior Director of Public Relations, center, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman talk with reporters during a press conference at Signature Flight Support in Tampa after returning from Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 11. (WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times)
  3. What we've learned from the Bucs' and Bills' playoff droughts

    Bucs

    Is it possible for the Buccaneers and Bills to be any farther off the NFL's radar? You get the feeling schedule-makers didn't think twice about putting this one down for 1 p.m. Sunday — the let's-hope-no-one-notices time slot.

    [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Motorcycle driver killed after hitting turning car on Keene Road in Largo

    Accidents

    A motorcycle driver was killed Friday evening when he struck a turning car, Largo police said.

  5. Drive-by shooting near Robles Park injures four people standing outside in crowd

    Crime

    TAMPA — Four people standing in a crowd were hit by bullets during a drive-by shooting near Robles Park in Tampa late Friday, Tampa police said.