Tornadoes are rapidly rotating vertical air funnels. Their winds can exceed 250 miles per hour and leave a trail a mile wide and 50 miles long.
Tornadoes, also known as tornadoes, occur during thunderstorms and are often accompanied by hail. Huge permanent thunderstorms called supercells produce the most destructive tornadoes.
These violent storms occur all over the world, but the United States is a major hotspot, with about a thousand tornadoes a year.
The most violent tornado to ever hit the United States was the Tri-State Tornado. In 1925, 695 people died and 2,027 were injured. The tornado was 219 miles long, making it the longest ever recorded.
What is a tornado?
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the thunderstorm to the ground. It is often heralded by dark green skies, black storm clouds approaching, and a baseball-sized storm can develop.
The funnel rises abruptly, as if falling from a cloud. The funnel hits the ground and roars with a sound similar to that of an approaching freight train. A tornado destroys everything in its path.
Because wind is transparent, it is difficult to see a tornado unless it forms a vortex of condensation caused by water droplets, dust and debris. Tornadoes can be one of the most destructive events of all atmospheric storms that one can experience.
How does a tornado form?
The most extreme tornadoes are caused by supercells, large thunderstorms where the wind is already turning. About one storm in a thousand becomes a supercell, and one supercell in five or six produces a tornado.
photo by Espen Bjerud on Unsplash.
Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, but they are most common at various times in early spring in the Gulf of Mexico. The season follows the jet stream – the further north, the more tornadoes there are. May usually has more tornadoes than any other month, but April tornadoes are sometimes more intense.
Although they can occur at any time of the day or night, most tornadoes form in the late evening. At that point, the sun had warmed the earth and atmosphere enough to cause thunderstorms.
A tornado occurs when warm, moist air meets cold, dry air.
Dense cold air feeds into warm air and usually creates storms. Warm air rises through the cooler air and provides refreshment. The update begins to run when the wind speed or direction is different.
As the rotating modification, called a mesocycle, extracts more hot air from the moving storm, its rotational speed increases. The cold air delivered by the jet stream, a strong band of wind in the atmosphere, provides even more energy.
Water droplets from the moist air of the mesocyclone form a funnel-shaped cloud. The funnel continues to grow and eventually descends from the cloud. When it hits the ground, it turns into a tornado.
How can I predict a tornado?
The first step in predicting the possible occurrence of tornadoes is to identify areas where conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms.
The main components of these storms are cold, dry air at mid-height of the troposphere, covered by a layer of moist and possibly unstable air near the surface.
U.S. forecasters have learned to closely monitor wind patterns in unstable regions and measure changes in temperature and wind throughout the day while tracking the movement and strength of the jet stream.
Meteorologists use Doppler radar, satellites, weather balloons and computer simulations to monitor severe storms and tornadoes in the sky.
Doppler radars record wind speed and detect areas of vortices during thunderstorms. Since the use of Doppler radar, tornado warning times have increased from less than five minutes in the 1980s to an average of 13 minutes in the late 2000s.
When weather conditions are conducive to tornadoes, the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch. When a tornado is detected or indicated on radar, a tornado warning is issued.
How to survive a Tornado?
Knowing what to do if you see a tornado or hear a tornado warning can help protect you and your family. People are exposed to excessive winds and are at risk of being hit by flying and falling objects during tornadoes.
After a tornado, the debris left behind indicates an additional risk of damage. While there is nothing you can do to prevent a tornado, there are steps you can take for your health and protection.
Tornado Survival tips
- Have a family plan in case of a tornado and know where it is safe to take shelter.
- Follow NOAA’s weather radio closely.
- Install a tornado or storm shelter built in accordance with FEMA 320. Always use a building code approved shelter inside, near or outside the house.
- Seek shelter in a certified and approved storm shelter, shelter or public shelter that is recognized as an official tornado shelter. Community shelters can be stores, malls, churches and even airports.
- If there is no shelter:
- Indoors – go down to a small central room, under the stairs, or to a windowless indoor hallway. Squat as low as possible on the floor, look down and cover your head with your hands. Cover yourself with a mattress, blanket, helmet or other compact blanket.
- RV – pull in. Even if your home is firmly anchored, it is not as secure as a solid building. Go to the nearest stable structure. Do not seek shelter under a curb, bridge or storm sewer. If it is not safe to get out, park the vehicle off the road. Keep your seat belt fastened in the car. Place your head under the windows and protect it with your arms and a blanket or pillow.
- Outside – a shelter in a permanent building. If there is no blanket, lie face down on the floor and protect the back of your head with your hands.
- Keep the family together in a safe place and wait for emergency services to arrive.
- Stay away from power lines, fallen trees and puddles where electrical wires can be hidden.
- Be careful to avoid sharp objects.
- Stay away from severely damaged structures that could collapse.
- Do not use matches or lighters if the natural gas or tank is leaking.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
Mick Haupta photo in Unsplash
Tornado Survival Kit
Since tornadoes can develop quickly after a thunderstorm, it is important to always be prepared. Prepare for a tornado by investing in a tornado first aid kit.
Basic tools for disaster survival
- Long-term storage of foodstuffs
- Respiratory protection
- emergency care
- Sanitation and Hygiene
For safety and protection
- N-95 Respiratory devices (face masks)
- Thermal emergency blankets
- Emergency Ponchos
- Plastic films on roll
- Roll tape
Disconnection of utilities and other functions
For communication and light:
- Metal tubes with belt
- AM/FM radio with two battery packs
- Flashlight with two sets of batteries
- 12 hours glow sticks
- Safety LED signal
- Waterproof document bag
For hydration and nutrition
- 2-gallon water bag for drinking and hygiene
- Food Bar
- Emergency water bags
- Water treatment tablets
- Food (at least three days of non-perishable food)
- Paper cups, plates, paper napkins and plastic plates
For medical, hygienic and sanitary purposes
- Personal First Aid Kit
- Medicine cabinet
- Biodegradable bags
- toilet roll
- Wet wipes
- Women’s accessories
Tornado damage can occur within seconds. They often result in the loss of life and the destruction of homes, businesses and entire neighborhoods.
Although the strongest tornadoes can destroy and demolish almost any home and everything in it, extremely powerful tornadoes are rare. Most tornadoes are much weaker. You can survive a tornado if you take safety precautions.
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