Is Connecticut New England’s Tornado Alley?

It’s been many years since a significant tornado has struck the state. That doesn’t mean the state hasn’t seen its fair share of tornadoes in the last 2 decades, however. Here’s a look at the average number of tornadoes per 10,000 square miles divided up by state from 1991-2010.

Average number of tornadoes per 10,000 square miles by state. Courtesy: NOAA

It may be somewhat surprising to you that Connecticut has the highest tornado density of any New England state by a wide margin! In fact we tie Pennsylvania and beat (or lose to as the case may be) New Jersey and New York.

To put these numbers in perspective Oklahoma averages 9 tornadoes per 10,000 square miles and Florida leads the country with 12.2. Not surprisingly the density of significant or violent tornadoes is much higher in tornado alley and dixie alley.

While tornadoes are unusual in Connecticut we’re by no means immune. In fact there are several reasons why Connecticut is more vulnerable than other areas in the northeast including our large number of north-south river valleys that can help channel and back low level flow and the relatively complex terrain to our west including the Litchfield Hills, Taconics, and Catskills.

The presence of boundaries from sea breeze fronts off Long Island Sound and a lee trough to the east of the Appalachians can help spawn tornadogenesis as well. There is a dramatic difference in tornado frequency in the state with the often marine cooled New London County seeing few if any tornadoes.

Courtesy: Wikipedia


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