Tornadoes are considered among the deadliest and most frequent natural disasters in the United States. These giant twisters are known to cause a lot of destruction and can even demolish whole houses in a matter of seconds. Anything that gets in the path of a raging tornado is blown to bits and becomes a part of it.
What is Tornado? Tornadoes are generally formed when a hot air current meets with a cold one. Tornadoes often result from thunderstorm and hurricanes as well! Even though tornadoes are catastrophic, they are a fascinating sight. Seeing a whirlwind of twisting air shaped like a giant rotating funnel is a sight to behold for some.
Many people are so enchanted with tornadoes that they want to see them with their own eyes, especially the inside portion of the tornado. Not many people who have been inside a tornado live to ‘tell the tale’ though.
How are Tornadoes Formed?
What are the causes of tornadoes? Tornadoes are usually formed due to the following main reasons.
- The mixing of cold dry air with hot moist air during a thunderstorm.
- The cold air sinks to the bottom while the warm air rises up and twists to form the shape of a funnel.
- Tornadoes are often formed when thunderstorms called super cells strike an area.
- Just before a tornado forms the sky turns a vivid green color.
The tornadoes are formed usually when a current of warm air and cold air combine within a thunderstorm. Since the cold air is heavy it sinks to the bottom and lets the lighter warmer air to move up. This rising and falling of air eventually results in the formation of the tornado. It always follows a pattern of formation that is common to all of them, no matter how big or small they are in size. They usually are generated during severe thunderstorms that are known as super cells.
An amazing fact about tornadoes is that seconds before they form, the sky changes color and becomes green. The formation of a tornado is triggered by the shifting of the warm and cold air that creates a spinning effect in the atmosphere that is not visible to the naked eye. Tornado images are often bizarre and dreadful! Tornado movies are testimony to this very fact.
This spinning is accompanied by an increase in wind speed and the air starts to rotate at high speeds. This rotating air then takes the shape of a rotating cloud and starts to descend towards the ground and begins its destruction spree.
How does a Tornado Change Color?
The following are some of the main reasons why a tornado changes color.
- When formed, tornadoes are clear and transparent.
- They change color when they pick up debris and dust on their path.
- They can appear brownish in color because of the amount of dust they carry while moving at high speeds.
Did you know that a tornado is transparent and colorless when it is initially formed? Have you seen tornado videos on YouTube? A tornado does not show any kind of coloration until it picks up debris and dust as it moves from one place to another at high speeds. They are known to suck anything into them which comes in their path.
This can include animals, human beings, cars and even whole houses. The color of the tornado thus is indicative of the type of debris and things that it has sucked in.
Most of the tornadoes are usually brown in color as they have dust particles present in them that are whirling about at high speeds. However, if the tornado has sucked in something that is red in color and is still intact, then the color of the tornado would appear red to the people who are viewing it from a distance. Similarly, some tornadoes even appear black or sometime green because they have sucked in trees and branches which are responsible for their change of color.
Interesting Facts About Tornadoes You Might Not Know
The following are some of the little known facts about tornadoes that are very interesting and eye-opening.
- Tornadoes have a very short life span and do not last for more than 15 minutes to an hour.
- The winds that are generated within a tornado can reach speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour.
- Most of the tornadoes have a maximum speed of less than 30 to 35 miles per hour.
- Tornadoes kill on average about 60 to 65 people in the United States each year.
- Tornadoes in the United States mostly hit the area known as the Tornado Alley which ranges from Texas in the mid west to North Dakota.
- Tornadoes generally strike during the months of April till August.
- The prime time for a tornado to strike is between 3pm to 9pm.
There are a number of interesting facts about tornadoes that most people do not know about. Do you know that most tornadoes move at a very slow pace of not more than 35 miles per hour and last only for about 15 minutes? The violent and most destructive tornadoes on the other hand can have winds reaching in excess of 300 miles per hour that can easily pull out the even the feathers of chickens that come in their path. An amazing fact about tornadoes is that they are mostly likely to hit an area during the months of April and August and in between 3pm to 9pm.
Did you know that the United States is among the most frequently hit countries in the world by tornadoes? More than 75% of the tornadoes in the world occur in the United States and kill on average about 60 people each year. This is where tornado safety tips come handy. There is even a Tornado Alley in the US which is known for being the breeding ground for tornadoes.
In short, tornadoes are among the most brutal and catastrophic calamities that occur at regular intervals. They can cause an incredible amount of damage in a very short space of time. The only way to remain safe from a tornado is to remain as far away from its path as possible.
- Wind speeds: ~100 miles per hour
- Width: 250 feet
- Travel path: few miles (several kilometers) before dissipating.
- Wind speeds: 30i0+ miles per hour
- Width: 2+ miles
- Travel path: 20-30 miles
Lagest Known Tornado
- Location: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana USA
- Name: Tri-State Tornado
- Date: March 18, 1925
- Death toll: 695
- Width: ~1 mile
- Travel path: ~234 miles (Missouri -> Illinois -> Indiana)
- Tornado outbreak included: Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Kansas
- Location: Manikganj District, Bangladesh
- Name: Daultipur-Salturia Tornado
- Date: April 26, 1989
- Death toll: ~1300
- Width: ~1 mile
- Travel path: ~60 miles
Tornadoes produce an electromagnetic field.
Tornadoes can develpp anywhere on the Earth except Antarctica.
Tornados can be invisible, gray or white or take on the color of material drawn into them including:
- Water: white or blue
- Dirt or other materials: Brown, red or black depending on lightening
- Snow: White
Truth, Opinion and Fiction
Claim: A green sky indicates a tornados.
Strong storms can have a green coloration to their clouds, however there is no specific link to the presence of a tornado.
Claim: The south west corner of a house or basement is the safest place during a tornado.
In a basement the point furtherest from the approaching tornado would generaly be the safest location. On the gound floor, the center-most room is likely to be the safest.
Claim: Opening windows reduces the potential of damage due to pressure changes.
In a highly variable event such as a tornado widws, changing pressures, flying object make it impossible to know for sure if opening a window will be a benefit or a liability. In any case it is far more important to seek the best shelter possible.
Claim: Bridges and over passes offer protection from storms and tornadoes.
Bridges can create dangerous wind conditions, channel flying materials and should NOT be used as shelter. According to Wikipedia, a documentary film is at least partially responsible for creating the impression that these locations are safe.