Ten Questions: Tornadoes
So let's learn a few facts about them; ten to be exact.
01. What is a tornado?
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air. It comes down from a cumuliform cloud and touches the ground. If it doesn't touch down it is known as a funnel cloud. A tornado may or may not have a visible funnel. Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms.
02. What is the difference between hurricane and tornado damage?
A tornado has much higher wind speed than a hurricane so any damage is caused by the extremely high winds. Damage from a hurricane is mostly from flooding and storm surge. Typically a tornado is smaller than a hurricane and affects a smaller area. Often tornadoes accompany hurricanes.
03. How are tornadoes classified?
The Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale classifies tornadoes by the severity of damage they do. They range from light with winds of 40 to 72 MPH (which is F0) all the way to F5 or incredible with winds of 261-318 MPH.
04. Where do tornadoes happen?
They can happen anywhere in the world. Most tornadoes happen in the United States. Each state has experienced them. A large portion of the tornadoes occur in Tornado Alley.
05. What is Tornado Alley?
Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota are the states in Tornado Alley.
06. What is the difference between a tornado "watch" and a tornado "warning"?
A "watch" means that conditions exist for a severe storm to develop. It simply means to watch for changes in your area. It is meant to alert you to be prepared if a tornado develops in your area. A "warning" is issued by The National Weather Service when a tornado has been sighted or if Doppler Radar indicates that a storm is likely to develop into a tornado. If a warning has been issued seek shelter immediately.
07. What time is a tornado most likely to occur?
Most tornadoes happen in the spring with May being the month when more happen than any other month. More tornadoes happen between 3:00 PM and 9:00 PM but they can happen at any time.
08. Does a tornado make a lot of noise?
The amount of noise made by a tornado depends on the type and amount of debris it is carrying. For instance a tornado in an open prairie will make very little noise while a tornado that hits a populated area can sound like a freight train or louder.
09. What is a water spout?
A water spout is a tornado that forms over warm water. It is usually quite weak. Water spouts are often seen in the gulf areas.
10. What should I do to protect myself during a tornado?
First of all, if a warning is issued, take it seriously. Do not try to open windows. It won't help and it will let rain and possibly other debris into your home. Quickly take cover. A small room with no windows on the lowest floor of your house is best. A bathroom or closet will do. Try to cover yourself with blankets or a mattress. If you can, take a radio with you so you can track the progress of the storm. This tells you that it is good to have a radio with batteries that are well-charged. If you are in a mobile home... get out and go to a shelter or a nearby solid building. In a public building stay away from windows. Try to find a small room or at least a solid wall. Make yourself small and try to protect your body as much as possible. If you have practiced what to do it will make the process smoother.
Tornadoes are not something to ignore. Protect yourself the best way possible. One time a tornado destroyed a motel in Oklahoma. They found the motel sign in Arkansas. Another tornado lifted an 83 ton train from the tracks and tossed it 80 feet. You won't win a fight against one.