Pat Shingleton for Thursday, May 2, 2013

A vague, outlined swath of countryside, extending from the Deep South through the Plains and the Midwest, formerly was a loose definition of “Tornado Alley.” As noted in a previous column, Discovery magazine reported two traditional alleys have been identified from Oklahoma and Texas through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri into the Ohio Valley. Another alley identifies our area and the Gulf South, known as the Dixie Alley. The American Association of Geographers has officially identified four regions that could receive alley labels. Michael Frates, a graduate assistant at the University of Akron, analyzed tornado tracks greater than 20 miles, identifying 3,000 tornado cells. His research verified that our Dixie Alley has the highest frequency of long-track tornadoes, making it the most active in the U.S. Fastcast: Soggy.