Whilst this is not a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), we highly recommend that you take a look at this outstanding FAQ put together by Roger Edwards of the (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center (centre).
Where do Tornadoes come from?
Well! It’s safe to say to suggest we still don’t understand how Tornadoes form.
However, the most powerful (destructive/deadly) Tornadoes happen from supercells – rotating thunderstorms – with a radar1 circulation called a mesocyclone.
1: it has to be said that some violent mesocyclones can be far from radar and hard for it to see. It can also be said that low level circulation can make it hard for the radar to detect (aka scan).
Don’t forget, it has to be said supercells can also producing damaging hail, non-tornadic winds, lightning and flash floods. The formation of a Tornado is believed to be dictated mainly by things which happen in and around the mesocyclone.
Latest suggestions/results from a study suggest that once a mesocyclone is underway, the development of a Tornado is related to the temperature difference across the (edge) of downdraft air wrapping around the mesocyclone.
Where do Tornadoes strike?
Tornadoes can strike wherever and whenever the conditions are right. In the U.S. – Tornadoes are most common in the central plains of North America – east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Tornadoes tend to occur during the spring and summer – Tornado season comes early in the south and later in the north because of one simple reason. Spring comes later in the year as one moves northward.
However, it has to be said that Tornadoes can strike in every state in the United States – any day of the year, at any hour of the day. Tornadoes can also occur in many other parts of the world – Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.
What type of damage can be caused by a Tornado?
The damage from Tornadoes tends to come from the strong winds. The winds of a Tornado can reach up to three hundred miles per hour (most violent). The following bullet points illustrate what the wind speeds can do:
• Vehicles (incl. trains, cars etc) can become airborne.
• Level the ordinary home – we mean rip it to shreds!
• Turn broken glass and other debris into lethal missiles.
It’s safe to say the biggest threat to living beings (inc. animals/humans) from Tornadoes is flying debris + being tossed about in the wind. We’re going to bust a myth for you right now.
It was believed in the past that the low pressure in a Tornado contributed to the damage by making buildings explode – just like a bomb would – but this is no longer to believe to be true.
Would a Tornado dig up the ground?
It has been reported in the past that Tornadoes have blown dirt to an extent to where it has created a three foot deep trench. However, this is very uncommon!
It is widely known that Tornadoes have stripped asphalt from the road/pavement.
Tornadoes… Can they be predicted?
Yes but only to a limited capacity. Even though the formation (process) of the Tornado is not completely understood, research has suggested Tornadoes tend to form under certain types of atmospheric conditions are present.
Meteorologists spot those specific conditions, they can predict that Tornadoes are likely to happen. However…
…It is not yet possible to predict in advice when or where a Tornado will develop, how strong it/they2 and what path it/they will take.
Once a Tornado has formed and has been detected, warnings can be issued – based upon the path of the storm producing.
2: In case of a Tornado outbreak.
However! The path of the Tornado cannot be precisely predicted – who will or will not be struck.
What is the title of people who study Tornadoes?
The title of people who study Tornadoes are meteorologists or even atmospheric scientists.
We can mention the title Storm chaser. However, it has been suggested by the National Severe Storm Laboratory (NSSL) that these people only chase Tornadoes for a hobby.
We don’t necessarily agree with that comment.
Meteorologists tend to do the science. These individuals tend to come up with the questions they think they can answer taking particular measurements.
The wind speeds inside a Tornado… What are they?
It’s unsure what the highest wind speed might be within a Tornado, simply because powerful and violent tornadoes destroy weather (measurement) instruments. Presently, the only measurements of the winds inside – come from – weaker Tornadoes.
However, mobile Doppler radars have the ability to measure wind speeds within a Tornado above ground level. The strongest Tornado recorded was three hundred and eighteen miles per hour – measured on the 3rd May 1999 near Bridge Creek/Moore, Oklahoma.
How fast do Tornadoes move?
Exact statistics are not available at this time. However, the movement of a Tornado can range from almost stationary to more than sixty miles per hour. Typically, a Tornado travels at around ten/twenty miles per hour.
Has every state in the U.S had a Tornado?
Of course, however some states have a number more Tornadoes then others.
Do Tornadoes always come from a wall cloud?
Tornadoes do not necessarily come from a wall cloud – not always present. It is possible however that you cannot see a wall cloud because of your viewing angle.
The sound of the Tornado… What is it like?
People who have gone through a Tornado have suggested it sounds like a jet engine or a freight train.
What would it be like to be in the eye of a Tornado?
It’s safe to suggest that the very centre of the Tornado is almost calm. However, it may have some downward motion in it.
Again, there have not been any direct measurements of the winds (in the eye) simply because the instruments used to measure the winds would be destroyed.
How many Tornadoes strike the U.S each year?
Approximately one thousand two hundred – however this varies.
What direction do Tornadoes spin?
Tornadoes in the Northern Hemisphere tend to spin counter clockwise rather than clockwise. Truth be told, we love this fact!
Tornado Alley… Where is it?
Tornado Alley is a commonly used term – created by the media – for an area which experiences a significant amount of Tornadoes. According to the NSSL, it is not a clearly defined area.
“Is tornado alley the area with the most violent tornadoes, or is it the area with the most tornado-related deaths, or the highest frequency or tornadoes? It depends on what kind of information you want!”National Severe Storm Laboratory, NSSL – https://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/tornadoes/faq/
That’s it for Tornado Videos’ frequently asked questions!
Again, we highly suggest that you take a look at the outstanding FAQ put together by Roger Edwards of the (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center (centre).