Why are tornadoes rare in Europe?

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Dear Tom,
The weather in central Europe is comparable to what we get here in the Midwest, but we never hear about tornadoes there.
Allen James, Chicago
Dear Allen,
Although the climates of central Europe and the Midwest are similar in many ways, tornadoes are rare events there. Nowhere else on Earth do the forces that cause severe weather come together to the extent they do in the central U.S. With tropical moisture to the south, cold air to the north and a high mountain range to the west (to dry the air at midlevels and intensify storms), the region is ideal for tornado development. As a result, three of every four tornadoes on Earth occur in the U.S. There are no international standards for detailing tornadoes, and statistics are sketchy. This is part of the reason we hear little about foreign tornadoes.

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