A reader asks why they have so many more tornadoes in Kansas than we have here in Nevada. Well, in the first place, “I don’t think we’re in the Truckee Meadows anymore, Toto” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. There are several reasons why, none of which have to do with the number of mobile homes you find. A tornado requires that you have a pretty sizable thunderstorm, and we don’t get as many strong thunderstorms out here as they do in the Midwest. Thunderstorms will almost always need unstable air to form in, and moist air is usually inherently more unstable than dry, and I don’t have to tell you which part of the country has more humidity. In addition, when a cold front swoops down out of Canada, and slams into the humid air of the Heartland, that can kick off some dynamite storms.
And have you ever noticed that most tornadoes form on flat land? That’s because mountainous terrain tends to cause enough turbulence near the ground to disrupt the forming of the funnels. The rare tornado that you see in Nevada usually forms out on an old playa, or sometimes out on one of our larger lakes.