As the snow continues to melt and spring comes into full swing, we’re ready to come out of hibernation and enjoy the warmer weather and budding flowers. Unfortunately, a less pleasant aspect of spring is its tendency to bring tornadoes with it. In the Midwest, May-July are the months that experience the most heavy tornado activity; neighbors to the infamous “Tornado Alley,” Wisconsin and Illinois receive their fair share of the destructive weather events.
By utilizing GIS mapping, we have the capability of viewing every US tornado between 1980 and 2012. With this map, viewers are able to see which areas of the United States are more susceptible to tornadoes and where the biggest (and most destructive) tornadoes are most likely to touch down. Additionally, the map gives an intuitive visualization of what the overall trend of tornado activity looks like, allowing us to make educated guesses about what to expect in upcoming years.
With each circle representing a distinct tornado (the bigger the circle, the bigger the tornado), users are able to click any circle to view its individual information, such as the date it occurred, its Fujita Scale rating, how far it traveled, how many people were injured or killed, and how much property damage it created.
Though the northern Midwest states generally experience fewer tornadoes, we don’t go completely unscathed. In 2010, Wisconsin and northern Illinois experienced over 50 tornadoes in just a few short months.
Information for tornado formation and landings often comes from civilians calling them in, meaning acquiring and organizing the data into a usable format could be a very overwhelming process. By using GIS mapping capabilities, the data is clear, concise, and informative while also visually appealing.