Tornado hotspots shifting from Plains to Southeast, raising risks

A new study reveals tornado activity in the U.S. has moved from the Great Plains to the Southeast, increasing risks for denser populations and mobile home communities.

Matthew Cappucci reports for The Washington Post.


In short:

  • Tornadoes have shifted from the Great Plains to the Southeast, especially southern Mississippi and Tennessee Valley.
  • Higher population density and more mobile homes in the Southeast increase vulnerability to tornado damage.
  • Researchers are unsure if this shift is permanent or a result of climate change and other atmospheric factors.

Key quote:

“If climate change is driving the changes in both regions, then we should expect the shift/changes to be rather permanent … or at least long-lasting.”

— Grady Dixon, professor and researcher specializing in tornado trends at Fort Hays State University

Why this matters:

The shift in tornado activity to the Southeast puts more people at risk, especially in areas with dense populations and vulnerable housing. States like Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee are increasingly becoming hotspots, and these areas often lack the same level of preparedness and infrastructure designed to withstand tornadoes as their Midwestern counterparts. Mobile homes, which are more common in the Southeast, are particularly vulnerable, offering little protection against the fierce winds and flying debris.

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