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Dixie Alley 101

 Usual Caveats

For this week, the overall forecast trend is warm with thunderstorms and showers early on. We are under a Flash Flood Watch through this evening, and it is possible that the watch could be extended to Tuesday or Wednesday. There will be extended periods of rain today to Wednesday. So, keep an eye out for Flash Flood Warnings, and, of course, steer clear of flooded roadways. Also, there is a possible severe thunderstorm risk according to the Storm Prediction Center. For today, there is a Marginal Risk (the lowest grade just above general, non-severe thunderstorms) for severe thunderstorms, and there was a Marginal Risk bordering the area and a Slight Risk north of the area for tomorrow. It might change regarding tomorrow, though, and I will post an additional article if the SPC extends the marginal or slight risk southward.

Today- Heavy rain (90% chance), Hi- 75

Tonight- Mostly cloudy, 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, Lo- 70

Tuesday- Cloudy, showers and a thunderstorm likely (70% chance), Hi- 82

Tuesday night- Cloudy, showers and thunderstorms likely (70% chance), Lo- 69

Wednesday- Cloudy, morning showers and thunderstorms likely (60% chance), Hi- 74

Wednesday night-Mostly cloudy, Lo- 54

Thursday- Mostly cloudy, 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms, Hi- 74

Thursday night- Mostly cloudy, 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms, Lo- 57

Friday- Mostly sunny, Hi- 78

Friday night- Mostly clear, Lo- 57

Saturday- Sunny, Hi- 81

Saturday night- Mostly clear, Lo- 62

Sunday- Sunny, 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms, Hi- 83

Dixie Alley 101

To begin with, the Dixie Alley is usually referred to as the tornado-prone Southeast. The bad news is that Tennessee  is within the region well known for killer tornadoes. There are several factors and comparisons to illustrate why Dixie Alley is more dangerous than Tornado Alley itself. Tornado Alley has slightly more twisters than the Dixie Alley, but Dixie Alley has higher numbers of tornado deaths. Ignoring the social factors (trailer parks, assumptions that they only occur in spring), Dixie Alley twisters are still more dangerous than their Tornado Alley counterparts.

Seasons

For the Tornado Alley, the twisters are typically springtime and summertime visitors; however, for the South, there are continuous harassments from the tornadoes year-round except for summertime (rare but still happens). No wonder we hear about tornadoes more than snow in the South around Christmastime. Thanks to shorter and more extreme season in Tornado Alley, they might worry about tornados ruining Easter, Mother’s Day, or Memorial Day, but they could rest easy with tornado-free Christmas. Dixie Alley residents can only hope that they can have a tornado free Christmas, so if you happen to see captions saying that you’re under a tornado watch while watching the news: welcome to the South.

Also, there’s some recent research that shows that the tornadoes are possibly becoming more common in the winter, which is a concern for the Southerners. With that, I guess I could say that the twisters are going to show up more often as uninvited holiday visitors. Perhaps we will definitely relate more to a Christmas movie if they remove all of that unnecessary snow and replace it with a tornado and baseball-sized hail.

Time of Day

Some people in the Tornado Alley will complain about tornadoes themselves, including my personal favorite when someone says “God, I hate Oklahoma!” while filming an oncoming tornado. The good news for that poor Oklahoma fellow, there’s not much to worry about rare nighttime twisters in the Tornado Alley. I’ve talked to several long-time Oklahoma residents before, and none have told me that they had to get up in the middle of the night because of tornado warning. Yet, several Tennesseeans have told me about scrambling in pajamas to the safe place, and it has happened to me before.

In fact, the Dixie Alley is a different story when it comes to nighttime tornadoes. There are higher incidences of nighttime twisters, and limited wintertime sunlight doesn’t help at all. From my experience being in Oklahoma for a summer internship, the sunset during their peak tornado season is roughly 8:30 to 9:00 pm CST. Here, however, sunsets begin at  roughly 4:30 to 5:00 pm CST during winter. Also, Tennessee has had several tornadoes that struck very late at night to very early in the morning when most people are sleeping. In fact, about half of all tornadoes that hit Tennessee happened during the night.

If someone wanted to move from Oklahoma to Tennessee because of tornadoes, I’d ask if that person will realize that living in Tennessee involves getting up at two in the morning because a tornado touched down nearby.

Motion Speed

Dixie Alley tornadoes move much faster than those in Tornado Alley. More often than not, the South’s tornadoes clock at least 50 miles per hour, which wouldn’t be a surprise if they’re hard to beat without getting speeding ticket on the interstate highways.

Other Factors

Terrains and trees do not help very much with the South’s situation; in fact, they make it worse by making it harder to see tornadoes, not to mention that the twisters are usually rain-wrapped or hidden in low clouds. No wonder why chasers choose Tornado Alley over Dixie Alley.

Final Statements

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/30/weather/southeast-tornado-experiment-vortex-se/index.html

http://nwafiles.nwas.org/digest/papers/2010/Vol34No2/Pg145-Gagan-etal.pdf

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/cool-season-tornadoes-are-becoming-more-common-especially-dixie-alley

Also forecast from NWS Nashville and Storm Prediction Center.

I am a trained NWS spotter, and this blog is meant to be informative about the weather with light humors and commentaries.

About Ivy MacDaniel

I am a sophomore who’s majoring in physics with mathematics minor. I love weather, especially thunderstorms and tornadoes. My hobbies are chess, drawing, and outdoor activities. I am a trained storm spotter.

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