Tornadoes

By Triston VanSkyock and Jacob Patterson

How Tornadoes Form

Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and cool, dry air from Canada meet, and they create instability in the atmosphere. A change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere.

Information on Tornadoes

  • Tornadoes usually form in areas where winds at all levels of the atmosphere are not only strong, but also turn with height in a clockwise or veering direction.
  • Tornadoes are most likely to form during low pressure thunderstorms.
  • Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.
  • They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
  • They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
  • Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.

Spotting a Tornado

  • The skies will be dark, usually greenish in color.
  • Hail can be falling down.
  • Listen for a loud roar, like a freight train.
  • Look for a low, dark cloud usually rotating.
  • If you see any of these signs seek shelter.


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Protecting Yourself From Tornadoes

  • If you are in a building go to a basement or the center of an interior room on the lowest level of the building. Do not open any doors or windows.
  • If you are in a trailer or mobile home, immediately get out and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building. Mobile homes offer little protection from tornadoes.
  • If you are outside try to get to a low lying area like a ditch. Do not get under a bridge or overpass. Do not try to out run the tornado. If you are able get to a nearby sturdy building or storm shelter.