The fastest, most deadly winds on Earth!
House shredding winds!
How you can protect youself from a tornado!
- Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
- Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
During the storm.
If in a house...
Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes.
Avoid windows. If you make any effort to open windows, they should be only opened an inch or two and should be opened before a tornado warning. After a tornado warning, it is recommended that you do not go near the windows due to the possibility of flying glass or high winds.
Go to the basement, lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway or room with no windows. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands.
Get under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag.
Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
In a vehicle...
If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. [It is safer to get the car out of mud later if necessary than to cause a crash.] Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
After the tornado
Note: All information regarding before, during (inside a building, a vehicle), and after a tornado was provided by: http://police.mercer.edu/tornado/safety.cfm
This tornado gives you perspective of just how wide a tornado can get, and how big it is compared to everything else around it.
This shows you the dirt and dust clouds around a tornado. This also shows you just how tall some of these things can get!
See a resemblance?
I pity the people having to go through THIS storm.
Questions/ Contact Us
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a tornado? According to the Glossary of Meteorology (AMS 2000), a tornado is "a violently rotating column of air, pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, and often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud." Literally, in order for a vortex to be classified as a tornado, it must be in contact with the ground and the cloud base. Weather scientists haven't found it so simple in practice, however, to classify and define tornadoes. For example, the difference is unclear between an strong mesocyclone (parent thunderstorm circulation) on the ground, and a large, weak tornado. There is also disagreement as to whether separate touchdowns of the same funnel constitute separate tornadoes. It is well-known that a tornado may not have a visible funnel. Also, at what wind speed of the cloud-to-ground vortex does a tornado begin? How close must two or more different tornadic circulations become to qualify as a one multiple-vortex tornado, instead of separate tornadoes? There are no firm answers.
How do tornadoes form? The classic answer--"warm moist Gulf air meets cold Canadian air and dry air from the Rockies"--is a gross oversimplification. Many thunderstorms form under those conditions (near warm fronts, cold fronts and drylines respectively), which never even come close to producing tornadoes. Even when the large-scale environment is extremely favorable for tornadic thunderstorms, as in an SPC "High Risk" outlook, not every thunderstorm spawns a tornado. The truth is that we don't fully understand. The most destructive and deadly tornadoes occur from supercells--which are rotating thunderstorms with a well-defined radar circulation called a mesocyclone. [Supercells can also produce damaging hail, severe non-tornadic winds, unusually frequent lightning, and flash floods.] Tornado formation is believed to be dictated mainly by things which happen on the storm scale, in and around the mesocyclone. Recent theories and results from the VORTEX program suggest that once a mesocyclone is underway, tornado development is related to the temperature differences across the edge of downdraft air wrapping around the mesocyclone (the occlusion downdraft). Mathematical modeling studies of tornado formation also indicate that it can happen without such temperature patterns; and in fact, very little temperature variation was observed near some of the most destructive tornadoes in history on 3 May 1999. The details behind these theories are given in several of the Scientific References accompanying this FAQ.
Does hail always come before the tornado? Rain? Lightning? Utter silence? Not necessarily, for any of those. Rain, wind, lightning, and hail characteristics vary from storm to storm, from one hour to the next, and even with the direction the storm is moving with respect to the observer. While large hail can indicate the presence of an unusually dangerous thunderstorm, and can happen before a tornado, don't depend on it. Hail, or any particular pattern of rain, lightning or calmness, is not a reliable predictor of tornado threat.
How do tornadoes dissipate? The details are still debated by tornado scientists. We do know tornadoes need a source of instability (heat, moisture, etc.) and a larger-scale property of rotation (vorticity) to keep going. There are a lot of processes around a thunderstorm which can possibly rob the area around a tornado of either instability or vorticity. One is relatively cold outflow--the flow of wind out of the precipitation area of a shower or thunderstorm. Many tornadoes have been observed to go away soon after being hit by outflow. For decades, storm observers have documented the death of numerous tornadoes when their parent circulations (mesocyclones) weaken after they become wrapped in outflow air--either from the same thunderstorm or a different one. The irony is that some kinds of thunderstorm outflow may help to cause tornadoes, while other forms of outflow may kill tornadoes.
How long does a tornado last? Tornadoes can last from several seconds to more than an hour. The longest-lived tornado in history is really unknown, because so many of the long-lived tornadoes reported from the early-mid 1900s and before are believed to be tornado series instead. Most tornadoes last less than 10 minutes.
What is a waterspout? A waterspout is a tornado over water--usually meaning non-supercell tornadoes over water. Waterspouts are common along the southeast U. S. coast--especially off southern Florida and the Keys--and can happen over seas, bays and lakes worldwide. Although waterspouts are always tornadoes by definition; they don't officially count in tornado records unless they hit land. They are smaller and weaker than the most intense Great Plains tornadoes, but still can be quite dangerous. Waterspouts can overturn boats, damage larger ships, do significant damage when hitting land, and kill people. The National Weather Service will often issue special marine warnings when waterspouts are likely or have been sighted over coastal waters, or tornado warnings when waterspouts can move onshore.
Can't we weaken or destroy tornadoes somehow, like by bombing them or sucking out their heat with a bunch of dry ice? The main problem with deploying anything packing enough energy to realistically stand a chance at affecting a tornado (e.g., hydrogen bomb) is that it would be even more deadly and destructive than the tornado itself. Lesser things (like huge piles of dry ice or smaller conventional weaponry) would be too hard to deploy in the right place fast enough, and would likely not have enough impact to affect the tornado much anyway. Imagine the legal problems one would face, too, by trying to bomb or ice a tornado, then inadvertently hurting someone or destroying private property in the process. In short--bad idea!
What does a tornado sound like? That depends on what it is hitting, its size, intensity, closeness and other factors. The most common tornado sound is a continuous rumble, like a nearby train. Sometimes a tornado produces a loud whooshing sound, smilar to a waterfall, or the noise of open car windows while driving very fast. Tornadoes which are tearing through densely populated areas may be producing all kinds of loud noises at once, which collectively may make a tremendous roar. Just because you may have heard a loud roar during a damaging storm does not necessarily mean it was a tornado. Any intense thunderstorm wind can produce damage and cause a roar.
Where can I get tornado pictures? Photographic prints of tornadoes are sold by a number of storm chasers and by the NSEA Concession. You can see many interesting free weather images at http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/nssl/tornado1.html. There are also several stock photography agencies specializing in, or peddling on the side, weather photos which include tornadoes. A search engine can help you find online stock photo outfits and tornado photographs. For digital online photos, many tornado-related websites display images; but since all personal photography is legally copyrighted upon creation. Photos on this site and all National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) agencies, including the National Weather Service, are public domain and free to download, though credit to the agency and/or source is required.
Where can I get video of tornadoes? Public-domain videos of National Severe Storms Lab tornado intercept footage are available for a reproduction fee through a video transfer service used by NSSL. Many production companies, TV stations and storm chasers have made videotapes of tornadoes available for sale as well. Try web search engines and storm chaser pages. This FAQ will not endorse any particular commercial tornado video source or tour operation.
Note: All info in the FAQ was provided by: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/#The%20Basics