Tornado from Chicago?

I must come soon to the USA. Is the area of Chicago concerned regularly by storms and tornadoes? Thank you in advance for your answer!
:roll: a french stormchaser ;)
 
Chicago tornados

Chicago is definitely in "tornado alley", the state of Illinois which is where Chicago is located has been subjected to many large tornado outbreaks especially during the last few years. An F5 tornado that occurred in late August of 1990 killed 29 people at Plainfield Illinois which is a suburb of Chicago.
 
While the state of Illinois does get a lot of tornadoes, they are generally south of the Chicago area. Central Illinois is much better for tornadoes, but still not nearly as good as Oklahoma or Kansas or Nebraska, etc. Besides the climatology, chasing storms in a metro area the size of Chicago would involve mostly sitting in traffic while the storm gets further away from you.

J'espere que tu peux utiliser ce info (sorry, my French is a bit rusty).


Ben
 
Stuff

Rdale, what states are in your definition of "tornado alley"?? Remember there are many different "tornado alleys" in the US.
 
"Remember there are many different "tornado alleys" in the US."

There is only one "tornado alley" which is in the southern Plains. There are some spots where tornadoes are more common than elsewhere, but I've never seen any map or data that would put Chicago in a high-risk region as Ben noted.
 
For me "tornado alley" will always be from Nebraska south to northern Texas, maybe clipping extreme western IA. Obviously areas within a few states to the east will have quite a bit of action too compared to the rest of the world, but the true "alley" to me anyway is out in the plains..
 
Harold Brook's work did show a hint of a significant tornado (a.k.a. F2 or greater) alley through central IL to southern IN, but it pales in comparison to the main axes that stretch from the Ozarks across the Gulf coast states and also up through the central plains (N. Tx to IA).

(From NSSL)
55f67950f47accff1797f2944ef5fbd7.gif

I don't know if this study included the data from the super outbreak - but if it did then you should probably ignore the streak through the Ohio valley.

Glen
 
Tornado alleys

I have read that there are different "tornado alleys" for different times of the year, Gulf coast-late winter early spring, southern plains-early to mid spring, midwest-late spring and early summer, northern plains-mid to late summer. Here is a link to a website that talks about "tornado alleys":
http://www.tornadochaser.net/tornalley.html
 
Harold Brook's work did show a hint of a significant tornado (a.k.a. F2 or greater) alley through central IL to southern IN, but it pales in comparison to the main axes that stretch from the Ozarks across the Gulf coast states and also up through the central plains (N. Tx to IA).

(From NSSL)


I don't know if this study included the data from the super outbreak - but if it did then you should probably ignore the streak through the Ohio valley.

Glen

Since that is tornado days per century, I don't think it would be wise to exclude data from major outbreaks. Sure the Super Outbreak may have been an anomaly that occurs only once every 500 years, but we simply do not know that yet... Now, if there are no other outbreaks that match or exceed that outbreak by the time 2074 roles around, then obviously you could exclude that data as being 'per century'.
 
Worthless Trivia I figured out for the Chicago area:

2003 US Census Population Estimate
5,351,552 -Cook County
925,188 -Du Page County
457,122 -Kane County
066,565 -Kendall County
685,019 -Lake County
286,091 -Mc Henry County
586,706 -Will County
487,476 -Lake County IN

8 County Total Population: 8,845,719
Land Area (Square mile) 4507
Persons per square mile: 1963

Quick Glance at the NCDC Storm Events
Number of Tornadoes 1950-2004 Except 6/93 - 7/93, which is missing
42 -Cook County
20 -Du Page County
18 -Kane County
13 -Kendall County
16 -Lake County
13 -Mc Henry County
49 -Will County
21 -Lake County IN

192 Tornadoes for the 8 countiess, 1950-2004 minus 2 months of data.

Mike
 
It doesn't quite work that way imo at least. The period of study needs to be as long as the frequency of events being considered to get reliable results. Since the super outbreak is at best a 120 year anomaly, you shouldn't consider it in a study that only spans 75 years. Also, the use of the terminology "tornado alley" implies a region of favored frequency of occurence of tornadoes, doesn't it? Really, even the signal across the deep south is low frequency - but more on a 5-10 year period than 150 years.

Glen
 
I often tend to ignore tornado climatology studies and maps
that includes the years goung way to thr 1880's through 1949,
due to its lack of accuracy. National Weather Service started a
database back in 1950.

The following years of 1950, 1951 and 1952, the data is considered
not the most accurate, often you will see climatology starting with
the year 1953. 1972 is another year, where there was some data
problems. Most modern day tornado climatology you read about
starts with the year 1970 or 1980.

You often have to realize that most of the F-Scale ratings that were
assinged from the 1880's through the 1970's were based on photos,
newspaper accounts, etc.

Mike
 
It doesn't quite work that way imo at least. The period of study needs to be as long as the frequency of events being considered to get reliable results. Since the super outbreak is at best a 120 year anomaly, you shouldn't consider it in a study that only spans 75 years. Also, the use of the terminology "tornado alley" implies a region of favored frequency of occurence of tornadoes, doesn't it? Really, even the signal across the deep south is low frequency - but more on a 5-10 year period than 150 years.

Glen

I would agree, it's tornado days per century, yet the data doesn't span that far - So, does that mean they are extrapolating data for the remaining years, or simply not using that data? Either way, it skews the study. I also agree with Mike G., that most reports prior to 1950 may be rather inaccurate - I would tend to move that date up to 1970-ish, or up until the Fujita scale was widely used - Since this study uses the Fujita scale (F2 or greater). In my opinion, the main 'alley' is located from northern TX into NE and western IA... But that doesn't mean there aren't other hotspots, as some have noted.
 
Agreed, there is no doubt that the historical tornado database leaves a lot to be desired - but in the Brook's plot shown is only F2 and greater events - and despite some events likely being overrated, there are a lot more 'targets' for tornadoes these days - so these opposing effects help to some degree to offer some validity to the historical database. If you look at significant tornado days per year over the period - numbers are really pretty steady since the early 1920's.

From NSSL
50ab90f0a736901faa6d794e0bf18da7.gif

Glen
 
We have not had a tornado in the city proper for a while (1967 as Dan pointed out). However, there have been several tornadoes in "suburbs" of Chicago or on the outskirts of the city. Also, there are usually many tornadoes every year within a 1-4 hour drive from the city. For a storm chaser that's a hop, skip and a jump...especially if you already traveled all the way from France.

Fabian
 
If you want to chase it would be best to the southwest of Chicago in more flat, open area and where the hills will be slight and rolling if you can find some. Get close to the Wisconsin Border or if you stay in the metro areas then you could have a problem with various obstacles. If Illinois is your target then I would go with West-Central to Central Illinois particularly in the Spring and early Summer. (April - June).

Although, I would like to make a point that people have chased and been successful in just about any type of geographical setup...take for instance Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine which is notoriously hilly and does have some densely wooded areas. Not exactly optimal but I have seen some great shots come out of this area. Make the best out of what you have but ALWAYS and I repeat ALWAYS avoid major metropolitan areas such as Chicago. The last thing you want is a traffic jam or exit confusion or what-have-you in a dangerous situation.

...Alex Lamers...
 
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