Discover the Missouri Town Most Likely to Be Hit By a Tornado

Local storm in Saint Louis, Missouri
© Caleb Kroll/Shutterstock.com

Written by Patrick Sather

Updated: June 23, 2023

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The term Tornado Alley refers to the area of the United States where tornadoes occur most frequently. While no clear-cut definition dictates the boundaries of Tornado Alley, it generally refers to the an area that stretches from the Canadian Prairies to central Texas and from western Ohio to eastern ColoradoMissouri lies within this boundary, which explains why it experiences numerous tornadoes each year. Over its history, several powerful tornadoes have ripped through the state, including the deadly 2011 Joplin tornado that killed 158 people and injured around 1,150 more. In fact, Missouri ranks top 10 in the country in terms of state tornado risk. On average, 30 or more tornadoes strike the state each year, with some years experiencing well over 100 tornadoes. That said, which is the Missouri town most likely to be hit by a tornado?

Keep reading to discover the Missouri town most likely to be hit by a tornado. We’ll discuss the town’s history, size, and relative tornado index score. Plus, we’ll cover what wildlife you can find in the area and how tornadoes affect animals. 

History of Parkville, MO

Historic A Trestle Bridge Parkville Missouri

Located in Platte County, Parkville is part of the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area.

©Tom Alyea/Shutterstock.com

Located in Platte County, Parkville is part of the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Parkville originally began as a steamboat landing on the Missouri River in the early 19th century. In 1838, Colonel George S. Park, a veteran of the Texas War of Independence, purchased the landing and the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. A post office was constructed on the site in 1841, and the town was officially platted in 1844. To this day, the town shares Park’s name. 

Over the next few decades, Parkville grew and expanded rapidly. In 1850, George Park built a hotel in the town and named it the Old Number One. Park’s dream of bringing a college to the town eventually came true in 1875 with the establishment of park college. By 1877, the town supported numerous businesses, including hardware, shoe, and general stores, a blacksmith shop, and two hotels. 

Many of the old buildings in Parkville that used to house small businesses still exist to this day. Where general stores and blacksmith shops once stood, you can now find boutiques and restaurants. The train depot built in 1889 spent time as City Hall before eventually converting into an art gallery. Parkville continues to serve as the flagship campus of Park University, a private university with a total enrollment of over 16,500 students worldwide spread across 41 campuses and online courses. It also houses the National Golf Club of Kansas City, an exclusive golf club The city’s historic downtown, quaint shops, and location combine to make it a small but thriving suburb of Kansas City. 

Parkville Population and Size

As of the 2020 census, Parkville supports a population of around 7,177 people. However, just a year later, that number is expected to have grown to 7,810. 

Parkville encompasses an area of approximately 15.41 square miles. The Missouri River borders the city to the south, while Kansas City lies to the southeast. 

Tornado Index

Tornado

Missouri ranks top 10 in the country in terms of state tornado risk.

©Minerva Studio/Shutterstock.com

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, has a goal of helping people prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters. As part of its mission, FEMA maintains a dataset known as the National Risk Index. This dataset and online tool illustrate the communities in the US most at risk for 18 different natural hazards. Hazards tracked by the index include avalanches, earthquakes, ice storms, wildfires, and tornadoes. 

A Tornado Risk Index score represents the risk a community faces of experiencing a tornado compared to the rest of the U.S. Several variables make up a Tornado Risk Index score, including a tornado exposure value, tornado annualized frequency value, and other factors. The index also estimates expected building and population loss due to tornadoes based on historical factors when compared to other parts of the U.S.  

Based on historical risk factors, FEMA places a community into one of the following tornado risk categories:

Tornado RiskColor
Very HighRed
Relatively HighOrange
Relatively ModerateYellow
Relatively LowLight Blue
Very LowDark Blue
No RatingWhite
Not ApplicableLight Gray
Insufficient DataDark Gray

Parkville’s Tornado Index Score

Parkville has a tornado index score of 398.59, making it the Missouri town most likely to be hit by a tornado. This score places Parkville in the Very High-risk category on the Tornado Risk Index. A Very High-risk score means Parkville is in an area that is subject to experiencing frequent tornadoes (15 or more tornadoes per year per 2,470 square miles), including tornadoes with winds up to 250 miles per hour. 

For reference, Parkville’s tornado index score of 398.59 puts it in the same group as other tornado-prone cities such as Wichita, Kansas (363.11) and Grand Island, Nebraska (431.47). However, even Parkville’s relatively high score pales in comparison to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. With a score of 688.60, Oklahoma City ranks near the top of the list of most tornado-prone cities in the U.S. 

Wildlife Around Parkville

Black-capped Chickadee

Chickadees are a common sight around Parkville, Missouri.

©Paul Roedding/Shutterstock.com

The landscape around Parkville supports a diverse array of wildlife. In the area, you can find various mammals, including deer, bats, raccoons, possums, and groundhogs. Numerous birds make their nests in Parkville, including robins, mourning doves, and chickadees. The area is also home to several species of turtles and snakes, including a few venomous varieties such as the Osage copperhead

How Do Tornadoes Affect Wildlife?

Parkville ranks as the Missouri town most likely to be hit by a tornado. This begs the question, how do tornadoes affect wildlife?

In the long run, tornadoes don’t overly impact an ecosystem or the wildlife that lives there. Although high winds can cause damage and affect food chains in the short run, nature inevitably finds a way to return. Strong tornadoes with powerful winds can rip out trees and scatter debris that can kill animals or destroy nests. Birds likely rank among the animals most affected by tornadoes due to their small size, relative fragility, and exposure to damage from high-speed winds. 

However, the greatest threat to wildlife posed by tornadoes comes not from mortality but from changes to the environment. Tornadoes can remove forest canopy, which can cause shrubs to grow in the underbrush and encourage different species to move in. This can allow new species to move into areas where they were previously absent and create imbalances in an ecosystem. Plus, tornadoes can spread plant matter and seeds over wide areas, causing invasive species to spread into new territories. Over time, this can result in drastic changes to habitats and species demographics. 

Where is Parkville, MO Located on a Map?

Located in Platte County, Missouri, Parkville is a charming city that forms part of the vibrant Kansas City Metropolitan Area. According to the 2020 census, the city is home to a population of 7,177 residents. Parkville is renowned for its super interesting array of antique shops, art galleries, and a captivating historic downtown, all of which contribute to its unique character and appeal.

Here is Parkville, MO on a map:


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