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Brian1946's avatar

Why does North America get so many more tornadoes than the rest of the world?

Asked by Brian1946 (25017points) May 3rd, 2011

Here’s a global tornado distribution map.

I thought our geographic position relative to the Gulf of Mexico was a factor, but Europe has a similar position in relation to the Mediterranean Sea, and yet it seems to get far less tornado activity.

Do the Alps form an effective barrier against warm, moist air from the Mediterranean moving northward enough to meet cold air masses that are large enough to form tornadoes?

Could oceanic currents be a factor?

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9 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

The quick answer is: Flat plains and the convergence of warm and cold air masses meeting in the central U.S. Concerning the alps, that is definitely possible.

Brian1946's avatar


I agree.

If only we could move the Rockies, so that they ran east and west, instead of north and south. ;-)

Blackberry's avatar

@Brian1946 Yep. Although it’s better than the rockies just not being there. If there wasn’t a Rocky mountain range, people in the Midwest would just have houses made of Wolverines adamantium lol.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

All of the above plus we drive on the right side of the road.

wilma's avatar

@Blackberry, I was not familiar with what “Wolverines adamantium” was, so since I live in the Midwest, I looked it up. That might work for tornado defense. ;)

King_Pariah's avatar

Tornadoes don’t exist! Chuck Norris just doesn’t like trailer parks.

Sunny2's avatar

There is a gathering of weather gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus who determine which parts of the world get which natural disasters at which time. They are also responsible for the weather reputations of nations. Their decisions are made to preserve reputations, but being whimsical, they occasionally have it snow in Florida or thaw in the Arctic Circle. There may be a climate change in the works, but only the weather cabal knows for sure. Tornadoes are a special love of the weather gods and they order them when their whimsy turns evil. True story.

Cruiser's avatar

N….Mercer WI,
S…Key West or Puerto Rico if that counts
W…Moro Bay CA

mattbrowne's avatar

It might help to see where there are no tornadoes in the world:

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