Tornadoes are one of weathers most deadly and fascinating forces. Even though they are often limited by size (not being more than one kilometer wide at most) they leave vast areas of destruction and death behind them. They are also called twisters or cyclones.
Tornadoes are characterized by violent winds that swirl in a counter clockwise direction north of the equator and clockwise south of the equator. Most people recognize them as a towering black funnel extending downward from the base of a large cumulonimbus cloud. It rotates at speeds up to three hundred miles per hour (480 kpm) or in some rare cases, even faster. In the center of the tornado, the air pressure is very low in comparison to surrounding air pressure.
The speed of the wind is the primary cause of deaths and destruction of property. Many people are killed by flying objects and debris (missiles). The funnel shaped cloud travels in a skip like movement, and usually never lasts for more than a couple of minutes in any one given place. It is because of this skip movement that the tornado leaves some areas wrecked while others a few yards away almost untouched.
Certain parts of the world (ie. Australia, the Midwestern and Southern US) are more prone to have tornadoes. They also occur more frequently in the spring and summer months. Tornadoes usually occur as part of a severe thunderstorm and often come in advance of cold fronts, however, they can also occur (although less frequently) ahead of warm fronts, and even behind cold fronts.
The greatest killer tornado in the United States occurred during the year 1925 in Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. It was the fastest and largest one ever recorded, with a destructive path two hundred and twenty miles long and one mile wide, and traveled at a speed of sixty miles per hour. It killed six hundred ninety five people and injured over two thousand.
How Tornadoes are Formed
Classifications of Tornadoes
Ten Most Devastating Tornadoes
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