(CBS) — Researchers at Purdue University think they have pinpointed areas where tornadoes are more likely to hit.
WBBM Newsradio’s Veronica Carter reports researchers looked at 60 years worth of climatological data from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, and found tornadoes touch down most often in “transition zones” – areas where a dramatic change in landscape takes place. In other words, where tall buildings end and farmlands begin, or where a forest stops and the plains start.
Indiana state climatologist Dev Niyogi, who co-authored the study, said the data might explain why mobile home parks are often called tornado magnets, as they’re typically located just outside city limits in open fields.
“That essentially goes to the heart of it,” he said. “How do we make settlements or landscape more resilient, and clearly there might be ways that we can make our livelihoods and lives safer.”
The study found tornado touchdowns in urban areas occur approximately 1 to 10 miles from the city center.
“From an average person’s perspective, what the study looks into is what the future cities would look like, in terms of trying to avoid larger high-impact weather,” Niyogi said.
He said city planners might need to pay closer attention to the so-called transition zones when laying out large-scale construction plans in the future.