What is a Tornado?
A tornado is an extremely violent funnel of air that is in contact with both the earth and clouds
How do they form
Tornadoes are associated with huge (supercell) thunderstorms. Scientists are not 100% sure how the column of air in a tornado begins to rotate, but one way the rotation appears to start is when two winds at different altitudes blow at two different speeds, creating a wind shear. Next, if this column gets caught in a supercell updraft, the updraft tightens the spin and it speeds up, thus, a funnel cloud is formed. Finally, the rain and hail in the thunderstorm cause the funnel to touch down, creating a tornado.
The greatest danger.
On average, around 100 people die each year in the U.S as a result of tornadoes. Though you may not die in a tornado, tornadoes destroy everything in their path. Tornadoes start fires because of gas leaks and down power lines, destroy houses, knock down power lines, lift cars up and throw them, and much more. Not only do tornadoes destroy property, they destroy the environment. They rip branches off trees, rip trees out of the ground, kill animals which disrupts the food chain and causes food shortages, water contamination,
How do I stay safe?
If You're in a Building
- Find shelter in the lowest level of your home, like a basement or storm cellar. If you don't have a basement, go to an inner hallway, a smaller inner room or a closet.
- Stay away from all windows and glass doorways.
- If you're in a building such as a church, hospital, school or office building, go to the innermost part of the building on the lowest floor. Do not use elevators because the power may fail, leaving you trapped.
- You can cushion yourself with a mattress, but don't cover yourself with one. Cover your head and eyes with a blanket or jacket to protect against flying debris and broken glass.
- Stay inside until you're certain the storm has passed, as multiple tornadoes can emerge from the same storm.
If You're Outside
- Try to get inside a building fast and find a small, protected space.
- Avoid buildings with long-span roof areas such as a school gym or a mall because these buildings are usually supported only by outside walls. When a tornado hits, buildings like these can collapse because they can't withstand the pressure of the storm.
- If you cannot find a place to go inside, crouch for protection next to a strong structure or lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area.
If You're in a Car
- If you can, safely drive away from the tornado and try to find a building.
- If no building is available, pull over and stop the car (but leave it running so the air bags work), and crouch down below the windows.
What should I NOT do?
- DON'T try to outrun the tornado, you will never outrun it, no matter how fast you think you are.
- DON'T stand near windows.
- DON'T take cover under a bridge or overpass
Where are tornadoes most common?
Tornadoes most often occur in Midwest U.S, specifically the Tornado Alley in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and even into Canada. Tornado Alley experience more than 500 tornadoes in a year.