By Ed Curran

CHICAGO (CBS) — Dramatic tornadoes are on the increase in Illinois.

Tornadoes in Naplate, Coal City and Utica.

NIU meteorology professor Dr. Victor Gensini said the frequency of tornadoes is increasing in Illinois.

“We’ve seen a downward trend in tornado activity in places like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas,” said Gensini. “A sort of your colloquial tornado alley. And an increase in places like Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Mississippi.”

“It is putting a lot more people at risk,” said Gensini. “You have much bigger population centers as you get east of the Mississippi River.”

They’re not sure why it’s happening, but it could be climate change.

“The southern Great Plains of the United States begins to dry out, there’s more drought,” said Gensini. “And a lot of these weather extremes and the frequency of these extremes shifts further to the east.”

Make no mistake, the Great Plains still rule when it comes to tornado numbers. The trend moving east is a concern.

Remember, you’re at risk anywhere in northern Illinois, including the city of Chicago.