I can’t help but notice that many of the towns that have recently been hit hard by tornadoes were located in relatively flat areas. While in states like Kansas and Nebraska you pretty much have nothing but flat areas, in Tennessee and some other states the terrain is not as uniform.
While the odds of anyone being directly hit by a tornado are fairly slim, it seems that folks that settle in the hilly or mountainous areas are a lot safer than those in the flatlands. Is that really the case, or just a case of confirmation bias? And if it’s true does it mean that those that can afford to move to these safer areas or is that something that people in tornado prone area don’t really think about?
Take a look at the storm map from last week. The heaviest area of damage, from southern Illinois and Indiana down to northern Alabama is pretty hilly – maybe not as rugged as the Appalachians, but pretty hilly by most any measure. Likewise, a tornado hit Branson, Mo., which is smack dab in the heart of the Ozarks.
Yes, the Great Plains are a fertile hatching ground for torndos, but once a storm system like that gets started, it really doesn’t care what’s under it.
As Kunilou said, the terrain is irrelevant. The areas most often hit by tornadoes lie along “Tornado Alley”, a line roughly from central Texas up through southern Indiana. This line is where colder northern air hits the warmer wetter air from the gulf spawning dramatic weather events.
While tornadoes are not uncommon, severe thunderstorms and high winds are almost a weekly occurrence here in the spring (I live in central Indiana).
As for moving?..Tornadoes are relatively small and very isolated. As you said, the chances of being hit are small. Consider a hurricane. 200 miles of high winds, surf and rain. No one moves from the east coast or gulf coast because of the potential for hurricanes. Earthquakes and brush fires in California… Pick your disaster.
I will say, there is much more weather coverage on the news out here than in NJ, where I grew up. You really just prepare for the worst. Basement, supplies, listen for the tornado siren…not a big deal…most of the time.
I will take a minute for those in Henryville, IN and the other impacted towns. Truly a nightmare.