April 18, 2012

Oklahoma City Is Ground Zero For Tornadoes

Q: What city has been hit the most by tornadoes?

A: The answer appears to be Oklahoma City, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. “Oklahoma City is almost in a class by itself when it comes to tornado activity,” he explains. “According to the local National Weather Service office, the capital of Oklahoma has been hit more than 140 times since records began in the early 1890s. OKC added to that total last week when a tornado touched down in Norman, a suburb of Oklahoma City. There seems to be no explanation other than Oklahoma City is smack in the middle of Tornado Alley, and conditions in and around the town are perfect for tornado formation in the spring and summer months.”

twin tornadoes during a thunderstorm

Tornadoes ravage Oklahoma City

Q: What are some other oddities about tornadoes and cities?

A:  One of the strangest has to involve the small town of Codell, Kans., McRoberts notes. “Codell was hit by a tornado on the exact same day – May 20 – for three consecutive years, 1916, 1917 and 1918,” he says, adding that records are sketchy about how much damage was done. “Also, the small town of Murphysboro, Ill, holds the record of most deaths from a single tornado – 234 people died in the March 1925 famous ‘Tri-State’ tornado that killed 695 people over three states. The tornado was measured at more than one mile in width.”

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Weather Whys is a service of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University.

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