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PNS Daily Newscast - November 21, 2018 


Senators from both sides of the aisle want Trump to clear the air on the Khashoggi killing. Also on the Wednesday rundown: Massachusetts leads the U.S. in the fentanyl-overdose death rate; plus we will let you know why business want to preserve New Mexico’s special places.

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Is Climate Change Causing Tornado Alley to Shift East?

Severe thunderstorms accompanied by tornadoes, hail and damaging winds cause an average of $5.4 billion in damage each year across the United States, according to a new study in the Journal of Climate and Atmospheric Science. (Skeeze/Pixabay)
Severe thunderstorms accompanied by tornadoes, hail and damaging winds cause an average of $5.4 billion in damage each year across the United States, according to a new study in the Journal of Climate and Atmospheric Science. (Skeeze/Pixabay)
October 22, 2018

MADISON, Wis. — A new study shows Tornado Alley is on the move, with an increase in tornado activity moving eastward and impacting areas more vulnerable and unprepared, including in Wisconsin.

According to a study in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, the frequency of tornadoes has been decreasing over the past few decades in typical places such as Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, but increasing in Indiana, Illinois and the Wisconsin. Victor Gensini is a professor of atmospheric sciences at Northern Illinois University and the study’s lead author.

"It's very hard for us to say with any degree of certainty that this is due to climate change,” Gensini said. “It could just be that the Plains have been quieting down and other areas of the East are heating up and this is sort of a natural cyclical cycle that will then transition back to the Plains someday."

He said the biggest increase in tornado activity is in states along the Mississippi River. And he warned the shift could mean more fatalities as it encroaches on areas where more people live.

Gensini said he's worried about those areas east of the Mississippi where there are more mobile home parks and places where there are a lot of trees, making it harder to spot tornadoes.

"You see a lot of tornado fatalities and casualties every year in these locations,” he said. “So, with tornado numbers on the rise, kind of intersecting this very vulnerable area, we really need to get the word out, do some education and outreach, to let these folks know they're at risk every year but the risk is increasing in some areas."

Other researchers have praised Gensini's work. The four deadliest states for tornadoes are Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - WI