- Associated Press - Sunday, October 23, 2016

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Researchers are trying to determine why the Sand Mountain area of northeast Alabama seems so prone to tornadoes.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville says scientists and students will spend the next year studying the role that the region’s mountains and valleys play in twister formation.

The work is being performed with a nearly $250,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A release from the school says the area was affected by 49 tornadoes in the last decade. Thirty-two of those formed atop Sand Mountain, which is about 15 miles wide and at one point rises 700 feet over the Tennessee Valley.

Scientists suspect that geography combined with air flow play a part in tornado formation. They’re using radar and atmospheric profiling with computer simulations in the study.

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