Udall. Topeka. Hesston. Andover. Greensburg.

Whether you lived through them or not, the major tornadoes of Kansas have become indelibly stamped on the state’s memory.

Kansas: In the Heart of Tornado Alley

Kansas: In the Heart of Tornado Alley by Jay M. Price, Craig Torbenson, Sadonia Corns, Jessica Nellis, and Keith Wondra is a photographic examination of the way the tornado has shaped Kansas culture.

The book starts with an explanation of Tornado Alley and how geography and meteorology interact to create the world’s most famous tornado corridor. Diagrams and photographs illustrate how tornadoes form and the strange impact they can have on structures.

Then comes a sequence of images portraying the historic tornadoes of Kansas and their aftermath, a grim reminder of the devastation these freaks of nature wreak. This section is quite complete, including everything from nearly forgotten incidents of the 1800s to the strange obliteration of the town of Codell to the big tornadoes of modern history, such as Greensburg.

Next is a particularly interesting section on how Kansans and others have attempted to reduce the risks of the tornado, a unique interaction between government agencies, the military, scientists, media personalities, and communities. Along the way, you will learn much about how forecasting and warning systems have evolved over the years.

Finally, there is a look at the love-hate relationship Kansans have with the tornado, the manifestations of which can be downright quirky. The fearsome tornado has served as everything from a team mascot to the namesake of a household fan.

Kansas: In the Heart of Tornado Alley is composed primarily of images, along with in-depth captions explaining the historical context. It offers accounts of events that you may never have heard of before, as well as fresh insight into more familiar storms.