If you’ve lived in Alabama long enough, you’ve probably noticed that tornadoes tend to follow typical tracks. Some like to blame it on the river or a highway – or a mountain. We can’t answer all of the questions, but we do know there are some topographic influences that can make or break a storm like the one in Fultondale last night.
One of those typical hot spots is Sand Mountain in Northeast Alabama, and the code has been cracked: at least in part. Research done by Dr. Tony Lyza, a former UAH atmospheric science researcher now at Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS OU) showed enhanced tornado activity, especially within a few miles of the northern face of Sand Mountain (atop the plateau) because of a ‘standing wave’ that enhanced low-level wind shear.