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WNIJ and NIU STEAM are partnering to create “The Sound of Science,” a weekly series explaining important science, technology, engineering and math concepts using sound. The feature will air at 1:04 p.m. Fridays as a lead-in to Science Friday.The Sound of Science is made possible by Ken Spears Construction

The Sound of Science - 'Tornado Alley'

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KC: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I'm K.C. and today we're joined by Dr. Victor Gensini from Northern Illinois University and today's topic is Tornado Alley, but does Tornado Alley really exist?

Dr. Gensini: Well, I have rather strong opinions I would say. One of them is that the traditional "Tornado Alley" is really undefinable by many people. I tend to do this in my Intro to Meteorology classes - I give them all maps and I say, draw me an outline of where you think Tornado Alley is, and of course everyone draws different shapes, different polygons that include different states as to where they think Tornado Alley should be.

The truth of it, K.C., is that it doesn't have a bound, there is no alley. I think most of us when we think of the word alley, we think of the bowling alley where there is some sort of lane that tornados occur in and they don't happen anywhere else. And the truth is that tornados happen in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and they occur at anytime of the year.

It doesn't matter if the calendar says January, or June, or November, as we've seen with tornados up in this area, including the Washington, IL tornado in November back in 2013 I believe. So, we really need to move away from this idea of using "alley" and educate people that tornados are not just the Wizard of Oz, Kansas, Oklahoma style events. They are damaging, significant events that impact northern Illinois, the Midwest, and the United States as a whole.

KC: Definitely, and they can occur anywhere, at any season, at any time. Thank you very much Dr. Gensini for being with us today on the Sound of Science. This was the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Dr. Gensini: Where you learn something new every day.

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