‘Tornado alley’ and other things to know during tornado season fox news gas prices going up or down

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A supercell is typically a thunderstorm with the “winds already in motion,” according to National Geographic. It requires a combination of warm, moist air and cold, dry air — which are the “ingredients for a regular thunderstorm," Brooks told the publication.

To put it simply, warm, moist air near the earth’s surface begins to rise, blowing in one direction at one speed. Subsequently, the cold air above is blowing in a different direction at a different speed. This creates a wind shear, which causes the air to rotate in a column. From here, if the air column gets caught in the updraft of a supercell, it causes the air to spin faster and create a funnel shape. The funnel of air becomes a tornado as it extends toward the earth and reaches the ground below.

It’s worth noting, however, that supercells are relatively rare. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), supercells are the least common type of thunderstorm.” Roughly one in a thousand storms become supercells. From there, only one in about six of those supercells will become a tornado, National Geographic reports.

Tornadoes are more likely to form in the southeast portion of the US from mid-April to early May, Dr. Jeffrey Basara, an associate professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, told Fox News. Then, from late April to early June, the twisters typically transition westward into the Great Plains, he said. From there, they are more likely to occur in the “corn belt region,” he said, which includes parts of Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and Minnesota, among a few other states.

In other words, while Tornado alley is a tornado hot-spot, this specific location is at an even higher risk, he explained. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why that is. (It’s worth noting that some of the most destructive tornadoes in recent years occurred just outside Norman in a town called Moore. A tornado in May of 1999 killed some 36 people, where one in May 2013 killed 24). What can you do to protect yourself during a tornado?

To protect yourself from a tornado, it’s important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning: a watch indicates a tornado could form, or “there are weather conditions that are favorable for tornadoes,” Dean said. A warning means a tornado has already been spotted.

Some homes in Tornado-alley are equipped with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-approved “safe rooms,” which, according to the organization, is a “hardened structure specifically designed to meet FEMA criteria and provide life-safety protection in extreme wind events, including tornadoes and hurricanes.”

However, if you are not able to reach a safe room during a tornado, it’s best to go to the lowest level of a structure, such as a basement. It is important to stay away from all windows, doors or anything else that leads outside, the Ready Campaign recommends. Wearing a helmet and placing blankets, pillows or even a mattress over your body may protect you from debris if a tornado hits your home or a nearby building.

“Severe weather is not something to take lightly. I think too often we do; there are many misconceptions about the accuracy of forecasting, but we’ve come a long way,” Basara said. “It’s important to take that information seriously and heed the warnings.”