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This Detailed Map Reveals 63 Years of Destructive Tornado Paths


"...I was interested in seeing regional trends where historic storms have bucked that NE trend and traveled some other direction."

(Image: John Nelson/IDV Solutions)

The data mapping magic of John Nelson at IDV Solutions has already shown us what 56 years of tornadoes in the U.S. looks like, but more recently he kicked it up a notch, mapping 63 years of historic tornadoes and revealing the most common direction of their destructive paths.

tornado map (Image: John Nelson/IDV Solutions)

"Not surprisingly, the lion's share of storms travel in a northeastern direction along with the prevailing winds (and carry F5 storms at double the rate as the other quadrants)," Nelson wrote on the blog. "I was interested in seeing just how great a proportion actually do. Beyond that, I was interested in seeing regional trends where historic storms have bucked that NE trend and traveled some other direction."

Nelson said he got the idea from New York-based meteorologist Robert Staskowski who wrote about the  "[carving] up the country into tornado warning zones." These maps, Nelson told io9, are part of his effort to do just that -- create tornado warning zones that have more educated input on the twister's direction.

Other observations Nelson calls out from the map are:

  • Northwestern moving tornadoes crop up in the western plain and along the East Coast of the Atlantic.
  • Tornadoes with southwestern path are seen more often in the northern plain states than the south, which Nelson says is an "exception to the overall trend of all tornadoes."

Read more about how Nelson created the maps from publicly available data on the IDV Solutions blog.

In other recent tornado news, radar showed a tornado touch down over the east runways of Denver International Airport Tuesday while thousands of people took shelter in bathrooms, stairwells and other safe spots until the dangerous weather passed.

This Tuesday, June 18, 2013 image provided by Scott Morlan shows a tornado that touched down near Denver International Airport. (Photo: AP/Scott Morlan)

Airport spokeswoman Laura Coale reported no damage. Nine flights were diverted elsewhere during a tornado warning that lasted about 40 minutes, she said.

A 97 mph wind gust was measured at the airport before communication with instruments there was briefly knocked out, said National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Fredin.

Chris Polk, a construction foreman, was working on a renovation project just outside the airport's main concourse when he got the tornado warning at 2:15 p.m., looked up and saw a funnel cloud. He and his crew ran inside and took shelter with some 100 people, including luggage-toting passengers, inside a basement break room as tornado sirens sounded.

"It got pretty crazy around here," Polk said.

Take a look at this footage from the event:

This story has been updated to fix a typo. 



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