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Kelly Connolly

Physical Geography
04-01-2016 (CRN#33229)

Map of Tornadoes at Global Scale:

In the global scale map shown above, the map shows the violent F5 tornadoes in North
America. Though tornadoes occur in various hotspots throughout the globe, such as, but not limited
to: Europe, Argentina, South Africa and Japan. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, the United States has an average of 1000 tornadoes form each year, making it the
“global leader” of tornado occurrence. Canada which experiences the second most tornadoes in the
world, have an average of 100 tornadoes per year. The United States, seem to have the right
combination of geography, climatology and topography for tornadoes to manifest. It is possible that
tornadoes happen in other parts of the world but are not documented as meticulously as they are in
more developed regions of the globe. The tornadoes are often rated by the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF):
F0 (Gale), F1 (Weak), F2 (Strong), F3 (Severe), F4 (Devastating), F5 (Incredible). The tornadoes in this
map set are of F5 rating. The impact is highly devastating and most often fatal, primarily in developed
areas. In other areas of the world, in undeveloped, uninhabited regions, damages could be
substantially minimized. Technological advances have contributed to finding solutions to the negative
impacts of tornadoes, such as the ability to issue warning to civilians, allowing them to seek shelter.

Map of Tornadoes at Regional Scale:

The map above, shows the pattern of violent tornadoes at a regional scale, focusing on the United
States. The Rocky Mountains contribute to the clear and definite pattern of tornadoes from the West and East
coasts. The majority of these tornadoes are taking place in the “Great Plains” of the United States. Cold air
colliding with warm air and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, create optimal conditions for thunderstorms.
These storms combined with the topography, which is flat and low-lying, allow tornadoes to form and actually
are prime conditions for tornadoes. States most commonly hit within the United States, include: North
Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska, making up what is commonly
referred to as “Tornado Alley”. Tornadoes have been and will continue to be extremely devastating to families
and communities, as accumulatively thousands have died from tornadoes and hundreds of thousands homes
have been destroyed. It can takes years for cities to bounce back from the damage of violent tornadoes. Aid
for damage from tornadoes costs around $2 billion dollars a year in the United States and is anticipated to
rise to $5 billion per year. Climate change, may be contributing to the warmer waters and air temperatures,
which play a large role in the formation of thunderstorms. Warmer climates, will lead to more thunderstorms,
leading to more tornadoes, creating more destruction and catastrophe. Focusing on solutions to climate
change, could drastically effect the number of tornadoes taking place and the strength at which they occur.
Another approach towards minimizing the harm from tornadoes, is technological advances, as mentioned
above in the global scale map. The better we are able to predict thunderstorms and tornadoes, the earlier we
are able to notify and warn people who may be in possible danger. Some tornadoes have been identified as
early as five days in advance.

Map of Tornadoes at Local Scale:

This map shows the violent tornadoes at the local scale, focusing on the states of: West Virginia, North
Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky. In the pattern shown above, the pattern of tornadoes is
effected by the topographic changes, such as a higher elevation from the Appalacian Mountains and the
Cumberland Plateau. There are tornadoes in the far south of the Appalachian Mountains, but they are
considerably less in quantity and of a lower rating as well. Similar to the Rocky Mountains creating a barrier, or
unfavorable geographic and topographic conditions, the Appalachians do the same, but on a milder scale. The
United States is greatly impacted by a varying degree of tornadoes and the damage is oftentimes catastrophic
and devastating. According to the National Weather Service, “even the tornadoes that “only” kill 24 people, will
destroy 12,000 homes” and the amount of aid that goes into rehabilitating these areas, effects the entire country
as a whole, not just the specific towns and states damaged. More retrofitting needs to be built, as seven children
were killed at an elementary school who were on level ground when the tornado swept through. Such losses
should not be happening, as our knowledge, capabilities and resources should allow us to at a minimum provide
sufficient underground dwelling for such times of crisis. Other passive solutions, would be to have a plan, be
stocked with emergency supplies, food and water and to take the warnings seriously. The average lead time for
a tornado warning is twenty-four minutes, which may not sound like a whole lot of time, but it could be enough
time to save hundreds, possibly thousands of lives.

Works Cited
Freidman, Uri. "Why Does the U.S. Have so Many More Tornadoes than Other Countries?"
Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas. 1 May 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://>.
"Historical Tornadoes - Violent." ArcGIS. Thinking Spatially Using GIS, ESREE Press., 2008.
Web. <
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Tornadoes for April
2011, published online May 2011, retrieved on April 2, 2016 from
"My Map." ArcGIS. Web. 28 Mar. 2016. <>.
Pinkerton, James P. "How to Take on Tornadoes." The American Conservative. 30 May 2013.
Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <>.
"Storm Prediction Center Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF Scale)." Storm Prediction Center. NOAA's
National Weather Service, 26 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <