Surviving the Storm? A History of Severe Weather in Amarillo
The flowers are blooming, the grass is turning green, and the leaves are coming back on the trees. That's right, Spring has officially sprung and we couldn't be more thrilled about it.
Warmer temps allow us to ditch the sleeves and break out the shorts. We can get outdoors and truly enjoy our favorite outdoor activities. It really is the best time of year if you ask me.
Unfortunately, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it's dark clouds and despair. Amarillo is known for its wind, and when you couple that with all the flat land and wide open spaces Amarillo has to offer, it heightens the chance for severe storms that produce tornadoes.
We used to sit right in the middle of what is commonly referred to as "tornado alley". In the past few decades though, we've seen a shift in where tornado alley lies, and with that, we've been removed from that designation.
It doesn't mean that we don't see tornadoes and severe weather events still, because we do, so we always need to be on the lookout for something to pop off at any time.
I decided to dig into how many tornadoes and other severe weather events Amarillo has endured over the years, and it was actually fewer tornadoes than I think I expected. When you hear the words "tornado alley", you think they happen with regularity.
From what I found, they started keeping track of tornadoes back in the 50s sometime, and according to the data kept, Amarillo has experienced 61 historical tornadoes with a more severe magnitude.
There are six categorizations of tornado intensity and strength, ranging from EF-0 to EF-5. The strongest one the Amarillo region has ever seen was an EF-4. We've experienced six of those tornadoes within 50 miles of Amarillo proper, the closest one being in Randall County 20.1 miles outside of the city.
That particular tornado did some damage. It was 880 yards in width, so nearly NINE football fields in length, and the path of the tornado was a massive 103 miles. If you don't understand what that means, it means the tornado traveled for 103 miles before finally lifting off the ground.
That particular tornado caused $2.5 million in property damage and was one of the strongest tornadoes the Amarillo area had ever seen.
Now it's not just tornadoes we experience here, we have had plenty of other severe weather events over time that have caused plenty of damage, and we can probably expect more of these storms this year.
Outside of tornadoes, the Amarillo area had experienced 4,146 different severe weather events. Of that number, 3,053 of those events were hail in the city, so one thing we can expect is little to moderate-sized pellets of ice falling from the sky and damaging our roofs and cars.
We've also experienced 166 floods and 874 damaging thunderstorm winds. Truthfully, I would've assumed the winds would've been a bit higher than that considering how much wind we deal with on a daily basis.
So enjoy the blooming of spring, but also be on the lookout for those nasty storms we'll no doubt experience. Pay attention to the alerts that get sent to your phone, watch TV, and listen to the radio for what you need to do. We're here for you, to keep you safe and in the know.