State climatologist says tornado alley may be shifting to include Illinois

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(The Center Square) – An Illinois climatologist says the state has seen an odd start to this year’s severe weather. 

Illinois leads the nation in the number of tornadoes so far this year with 86. There were 22 confirmed tornadoes alone across the state during a March 31 outbreak that killed several people. 

State climatologist Trent Ford said 2023 this far has been highly unusual.

“Our peak is between April and June climatologically, so to get that many tornadoes, basically a year’s worth of tornadoes just in January, February and March is really incredible,” Ford said. 

Between 1950 and 2020, April has been the deadliest month for tornadoes with 97 reported deaths, with most coming from the 1967 Oak Lawn tornado outbreak. The second deadliest month was August, with 29 deaths associated with the 1990 Plainfield tornado. 

Ford said the traditional so-called “tornado alley” could possibly be shifting slightly east to include Illinois.  

“This area here in Illinois and especially further south as you get into parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and down to the Gulf Coast has seen an increase in at least a frequency of those tornado days,” Ford said. 

Illinois experienced one of the worst tornado events in the nation’s history in 1925, when the infamous Tri-State tornado killed nearly 700 people and caused $130 million in property damage. 

On average, the United States experiences 100,000 thunderstorms per year. About 1,000 tornadoes develop from these storms.

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