Who Is at Risk for Tornados?

tornado risk GIF
Probably this guy, but it’s possible he’s just dancing.

“How likely am I to face a tornado?” You ask a great question, and you have perfect timing, because that’s what we’re going to talk about right now!. Although the deadliest tornado happened in Bangladesh in 1989, tornadoes happen most frequently in the US.

As you’re probably already aware if you live anywhere near it, most tornadoes happen in Tornado Alley. This is a swath of land that includes Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. That’s a massive portion of the United States! How fun for us.

tornado overview, tornado map of US
British children get Diagon Alley. American children get Tornado Alley. Not fair.

If you’re not in Tornado Alley, you’re not safe just yet. Tornadoes have been recorded as far east as Washington DC, and near the northern US border in Fargo, North Dakota. Any area from the Atlantic Ocean to Denver should be ready to hear the ominous blare of a tornado warning. Plains tornadoes are very common, but they can also form in mountain locations, and over water.


Since tornadoes are also able to form during hurricanes, east coasters should get savvy.

Timing, of course, is also important! Tornadoes are most likely during tornado season, but can occur anytime. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tornado seasons are:

  • Between May and June for Southern Plains (Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas)
  • Between June and July for the northern Plains and upper Midwest (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota) 
  • Early spring for the Gulf Coast (coastal Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and western Florida)

As far as significant preparations go, high risk areas (in or near Tornado Alley) should absolutely take precautions in advance, but everyone should have some tornado prep knowledge in case they’re caught in a storm. If your tornado risk is low, don’t wait for a mishap to teach you the importance of staying prepared. 

Get those prepper pants on! We’re tearing into the meat of it now.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.