Tornado Alley: What You Need to Know About Tornadoes in Missouri

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The state of Missouri is located in what’s called Tornado Alley, a nickname for the geographical area in the U.S. in which tornadoes occur most often. This region includes Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri.



What Is a Tornado?

A tornado is basically a spinning, funnel-shaped column of air that extends from the ground up into the sky, in a cumulonimbus cloud or thunderstorm. Sometimes called twisters or cyclones, most tornadoes are about a mile in diameter, rotate at a speed of 110-300 miles per hour, and travel up to a distance of 50 miles. Because of the rotating action, you’ll usually see all the objects and debris that it ripped up from the ground swirling in a cloud of dust. The weakest type of tornado will damage trees, and the strongest type can actually uproot buildings from their foundations.


Click here to use our Missouri Storm History Search Tool right away!


We're Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto!

When The Wizard of Oz came out on August 25, 1939, it was the first movie that showed a realistic tornado, despite the lack of CGI or other modern special effects – and, in fact, it still holds up today. The young protagonist and the setting were based on fact: in May of 1879 twin tornadoes hit Irving, Kansas and one of the victims was named Dorothy Gale, the same name as the movie character.

The tornado was created by the special effects director who used his pilot experience, and was essentially “a large tapered cloth sock with lots of wind and dirt thrown at it.” Check out this article for the details of how exactly it was made.


Tornado Facts

The word “tornado” comes from the Spanish “tronada,” which means "thunderstorm."

Tornados in the United States:

  • Usually cause around 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries each year

  • Appear basically transparent until they pick up dust and debris

  • Move forward at about 30 mph, but can go as fast as 70 mph

  • Strike with little or no warning

  • Are most likely to occur between 3-9 p.m. between March and May in the southern states and late spring through early summer in the northern states

Signs that a tornado is coming:

  • Dark, often greenish sky

  • Large hail

  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)

  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

Missouri accounts for 6 of the 25 deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history:

  • Joplin – May 22, 2011

  • St. Louis – Sept. 29, 1927

  • Poplar Bluff – May 9, 1927

  • Tri-State Tornado – March 18, 1925

  • St. Louis – May 27 1896

  • Marshfield – April 18, 1880


Staying Safe from Tornadoes

At home:

Although nothing is guaranteed, the safest place to be during a tornado is in a basement on the opposite side of the tornado's direction of approach. If you don’t have a basement, the next best place is in the center room on the lowest floor, preferably one without windows like a closet, bathroom or even hallway. Get under a solid piece of furniture like a heavy table and hold on to it.

At work or school:

If there is a basement at your place of work or school, go there. If not, go to a windowless room on the lowest floor and hide under a solid piece of furniture. Do not go into rooms or buildings that have wide-span roofs like gymnasiums or shopping malls.


Try to find indoor shelter and follow the instructions above. If that’s not possible, lie down on the lowest point you can find, such as a ditch, and cover your head.

In your car:

Get out of the car and try to find indoor shelter, and follow the instructions above. If you can’t find a building, lie down on the lowest point you can find, such as a ditch, and cover your head. Be sure to move away from your car, as a tornado will easily fling an automobile into the sky.

The state of Missouri will hold a tornado drill on a Tuesday in early March 2018 at 10:00 a.m. Click here for more details.


Missouri Storm History Search Tool

With our Missouri Storm History Search app, developed by Signature Exteriors, you can easily check the weather history in your area. Simply type in your address, select the distance of the search, and then choose the type of weather damage.

Our system finds weather events based on a given location dating back to 2011. This search app should be used as a research tool only, and is ideal for realtors and property managers who want a more thorough understanding of the geographical area they cover so they can confidently inform their clients and tenants.


Click here to use our Missouri Storm History Search Tool right away!


And remember, if your property has been damaged by a weather event, we offer FREE inspections, so give us a call today at (314) 827-5376 – or just fill out the form here and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


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