With even more severe weather in the forecast, here's a common talking point about the Wichita Mountains in Southwest Oklahoma.

Do the Wichita Mountains shelter and protect Lawton from the worst of weather?

I can't tell you how many times I've heard something along the lines of "The mountains prevent tornadoes from hitting Lawton."

I'll be honest with you, while I'm heavily skeptical about such a statement, it's not the craziest thing I've ever heard.

Example: Last Tuesday, severe storms were all over Southwest Oklahoma. Tons of tornado-warned storms swept through the areas around Snyder, Frederick, Tipton, and Hollister. Additionally, there were tornado warnings for Apache and later Comanche.

Lawton got a few moments of heavy rain throughout the evening, but that was about it. It's like the worst of the storms went around or skipped over L-town.

So... is it an old wives' tale or just an odd meteorological occurrence?

Every scientific weather paper on the subject of mountains and weather includes one discerning peer-reviewed fact... Mountain ranges do have an effect on the weather.

In fact, mountain ranges are one of the reasons that the plains states are so volatile. Dry cold air comes sweeping off the high elevations of the extended Rocky Mountains, and when it hits the warm, humid air traveling into the plains from the Gulf of Mexico, atmospheric fireworks happen.

That's not to say without the mountains we'd all have great weather, but it'd be fair to say the severe weather would just probably happen somewhere else in the country.

"Tornadoes don't happen in the mountains."

I've heard that before, but it's just not true. When conditions are ideal, twisters pop down anywhere regardless of topography. There are several examples of tornado touchdowns in the mountainous regions of America, including one that made headlines two years ago for quite literally sweeping down the Montana Rocky Mountains. You can see that one on TikTok.

Our Wichita Mountains aren't that tall, and if your memory is good enough, there have been several tornadic events through the mountains in just the past few years, including 2023's unbelievable dual-hailstorm event that rocked the community.

So, do the mountains prevent severe weather? Probably not... but it would make a great topic for those on social media to argue about instead of politics.

Odd and Unbelievable Tornado Facts

As far as we've come in the technology surrounding severe weather and tornadoes, there's still a massive amount science still doesn't understand. Yes, there is a generally agreed idea of how they begin, the conditions needed, and the usual atmospheric conditions, but twisters are still wildly unpredictable. Even more fascinating are the strange and almost terrifying facts about these powerful displays of nature.

Gallery Credit: Kelso

Tornado Records from Around the Country

With tornadoes on our minds the last few days, I started to wonder about many of the tornado records. How many in one day, biggest outbreak, strongest tornado in history, etc... While we all feel Oklahoma is the home of terrible tornadoes, the stats are somewhat surprising.

Gallery Credit: Kelso

The Ten Most Tornado-Prone Counties in America

When it comes to the topic of tornadoes, Oklahoma is universally known around the world for producing some of the biggest, including the last F6 ever measured... but it'd probably surprise most Okies that the Sooner State doesn't even crack the top five of the most tornado-prone counties in America.

Gallery Credit: Kelso


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