2023 has already been an active year for storms in the Quad Cities.  On March 31 tornadoes swept through Iowa and Illinois leaving a path of destruction.

While the Quad Cities had plenty of wind, hail, and rain (and even a tornado warning) there were no confirmed tornadoes that touched down in the immediate Quad Cities.

The question is, "do we have the river to thank for that?"

16 confirmed tornadoes...but...

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

As of now, the National Weather Service has confirmed sixteen tornadoes from the storms on March 31.  The final number of tornadoes is expected to be in the 20s.

However, as you can see on the tracking map above, they were all to the northwest and southeast of the Quad Cities.  So do we say, "Thank you river."?

The strongest tornado moved from NE Wapello County, across SE Keokuk county and NW Washington County, into Johnson County.  It was rated EF4 with maximum sustained winds estimated at around 170 mph.

Are The Quad Cities Safer Thanks To The Mississippi River?

Supercell thunderstorm in USA's Tornado Alley
Graham Moore

Quite simply put...no.  Not only can the river not divert or stop tornadoes, but tornadoes can also start on a river or lake.

According to the National Weather Service tornado myths include;

While conditions would not be optimal for tornado development on top of mountains or over Lake Michigan, tornadoes have been documented to cross the Appalachian Mountains and cross a 10,000 foot tall mountain in Yellowstone National Park.  Strong tornadoes have also crossed the Mississippi River and other large rivers and lakes.

Not only can tornadoes form on either side of the river, but from 1950-2017 at least 24 tornadoes have crossed the Mississippi River.  The average tornado-producing supercell is 10 miles wide.  The river is only 1/2 mile wide.

As we prepare for another day and night of severe weather in the Quad Cities don't rely on the mighty Mississippi River to keep you safe.  You should still look, listen, and take shelter when necessary.

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