Have any questions about tornadoes? What are they? What are they like? Do they really cause that much damage? For the answers to these questions and more, scroll this page and discover the extraordinary!



Q: What is a tornado?

A: A tornado is when a rotating column of air, typically made up of water droplets, dust, and debris, touches the ground. A tornado is arguably the most violent storm in the atmosphere.



Q: How are tornadoes formed?

A: We know that tornadoes form from rotating thunderstorms that produce a mesocyclone. (a radar circulation.) We also know tornado formation is related to temperature changes in the specified area, however, we do not know enough to give an exact answer. We still have much more research to do.



Q: What’s the difference between a strong storm and a tornado?

A: To be a tornado, there must be rotation and the vortex must be in contact with the Earth’s surface and the cloud base.



Q: Where do tornadoes form?

A: Tornadoes may form almost anywhere in the world, however, the highest concentration of tornadoes take place in the United States, Argentina, and Bangladesh.



Q: What does a tornado sound like?

A: A tornado sounds like a continuous rumble of thunder.



Q: How many occur each year in the US?

A: Roughly about 1200 tornadoes hit the United States each year. This means that roughly 1200 times a year, someone’s home is destroyed or somebody dies due to this natural disaster.



Q: Isn’t there a place in the United States that gets more tornadoes, than others?

A: Yes, we call this the Tornado Alley. This section of the US spans across parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, and more. FUN FACT: TEXAS SEEMS TO HAVE THE MOST TORNADOES HOWEVER, OKLAHOMA TENDS TO HAVE THE MOST DANGEROUS TORNADOES.



Q: When and what is Tornado Season?

A: Tornado Season is the period of time when tornadoes tend to hit more frequently. This season typically begins in the spring and ends in the early Autumn. FUN FACT: MOST TORNADOES OCCUR BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 4 TO 9PM.



Q: What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?

A: A Tornado Watch is when there is a possibility of a tornado in the atmosphere. When this in effect, there is no reason to worry but it would be best to keep watch and prepare for the worst. A Tornado Warning is when a funnel cloud is actually seen and the probability of a tornado occurring is much greater. When this is in effect, thorough preparations should be made. You should seek shelter, keep your phone on you, and make sure you have access to food and water. For more information on how to prepare, visit:  http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html  



Q: What are some signs that a tornado may be headed our way?

A: There are several things to watch out for. For one, watch out for inflow bands. These are low cumulus clouds that extend to the south. If they are present, watch out for a spiral, for this can mean a tornado is on it’s way. Next, look out for a Beaver’s Tail. This is a smooth, flat cloud band that extends to the east. Also keep an eye open when a wall cloud is present. This is a cloud lowering that can be very hidden or isolated. Strong surface winds will be present. A rear flank downdraft is also something to watch for. This occurs on the back side of a storm, and creates a downward rush of air. Strong surface winds will be present. Lastly, there is the condensation funnel. This extends downward. It is made up of water droplets. For a tornado to be possible, there must be rotation in the cloud.



Q: What are important danger signs to look out for?

A: Look out for dark, often green skies. Watch out for large hail, loud roars and a large low-lying cloud.


Q: Can precipitation happen around a tornado?

A: Of course. Common weather conditions that occur with the presence of a tornado include: hail, strong wind gusts, flash flooding, and unusually frequent lightning.


Q: How long can a tornado last?

A: Tornadoes typically last less then ten minutes, however, they can last anywhere from several seconds to over an hour.


Q: How far does a tornado travel?

A: On average, a tornado travels approximately 3.5 miles before dissipating.


Q: Who forecasts tornadoes?

A: In the United States, the National Weather Service forecasts every day, every time that a tornado is possible in any given area.


Q: How does a tornado cause so much damage?

A: The tornado itself doesn’t do much harm but when exposed to extreme winds, things get messy pretty fast. Most damage is done when a piece of debris makes impact with someone or something else.


Q: Are there any interesting historical tornadoes that may provide any information to us?

A: There may not be much important information to gather from the following, however, it’s interesting to think about: The DEADLIEST hit was on the 18th of March in 1925. Winds were about 74 mph and this tornado spanned through Missouri, Illinois, And Indiana. 695 people died from this F5 storm. The BIGGEST was hit on the  31st of May in the 2013 year in Reno, OK. The width was 2.6miles.


Q: How many people die each year because of a tornado?

A: On average, 60 people a year die due to tornadoes.


Q: What are water spouts?

A: Water spouts are tornadoes, but on water.



Q: How are tornadoes rated?

A: Tornadoes are rated using the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale which can be found in this link. http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/f-scale.html

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