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Why Don’t We See Big Tornadoes In Houston?

As towns in Oklahoma and North Texas begin the recovery process after several massive tornadoes, you might be wondering why Houston typically avoids those kinds of storms. It's actually pretty simple.


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There’s no doubt Houston isn’t completely immune to big, powerful tornadoes. But they don’t visit very often.

Chris Hebert is with Houston-based Impact Weather and says although it’s not impossible, our weather patterns rarely encourage the storms that cause massive damage.

“Back in November of 1992, we had a tornado outbreak in the Houston area and Channelview experienced an F-4 tornado at that time, so it is possible. But the conditions that generate tornadoes, or the conditions that lead to the development of what we call “super cells”, they’re more common in the northern plains because we have the clashes between the warm air and cool air and cool air aloft and all the dynamics and all the energy typically pass to the north of Houston up toward northeast Texas, through Oklahoma and Kansas and in the plains.” 

Hebert says when we do see tornadoes, they’re typically pretty weak, unlike the F-5 tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma a few days ago.

“Usually the F-0 to F-1, which is winds somewhere  between 60-100 miles per hour.”

And if we do see another big one here in Houston?

Herbert says there’s one basic rule if you’re in your home.

“Put more structure between you and the outside of the house in case the structure is penetrated by flying debris. You want to be on the interior of the house,  far away from any walls.”

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Jack Williams

News Anchor

Jack is back in Houston after some time away working in public radio and television in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before leaving for the Midwest, he worked in various roles at Houston Public Media from 2000-2016, including reporting, hosting and anchoring. Jack has also worked in commercial news radio in Houston, Austin...

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