"Wind Map" is a stunning interactive datavisualization that presents wind patterns across the continental U.S. in real time. Picture above is what it looked like last night at 10:59 CDT, in the aftermath of yesterday's devastating Oklahoma tornado.
Tornados have been observed on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica – but no region on Earth is more prone to twisters than Tornado Alley. Loosely defined as a swath of the Central U.S. between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains (from central Texas, northward to northern Iowa, and from central Kansas and Nebraska east to western Ohio," according to NOAA), the Alley is where cool, dry air descending from the north meets with warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. When that air collides, the results – as we were reminded yesterday – can be cataclysmic.