A crash course in changing the world.
204 Mile an hour tornado
Classic funnel in the panhandle of Texas
Classic Tornado front lit
Contorted tube tornado
Discontinuous funnel in the rain... very dangerous for the rain wraps it and you dont know where it is going.
Dissapating tornado in the rope stage. you will see a rope like extension when the tornado is disappating
Another forming tornado. They form in many ways so you have to be on the lookout in the spring!
Then there is the ever popular half tornado half dirt. When your in a situation like this you get mud everywhere!
you can have multiple tornados at once. I was in a storm that the supercell spawned 75 tornados and I ended up with debris from a town fifty miles away from me in my yard. It was really sad people lost thier lives that day.
the tornado is on the left half of the picture and on the right side secondary vortecies can be spawned ahead of the storm as shown just ahead of the tornado.
This is a tornado that is trying to form and you can only see it because of the dust and dirt.
This is a wedge tornado and they can become very wide.
This is like the tornado that Dorothy saw in the Wizard of Oz
The precise tracking and prediction of tornadoes is not yet a reality. Meteorologists can identify conditions that are
likely to lead to severe storms. They can issue warnings when
atmospheric conditions are right for the development of tornadoes. They
can use radar to track the path of thunderstorms that might produce
tornadoes. It is still not possible, however, to detect a funnel cloud
by radar and predict its path, touchdown point, and other important
details. Much progress has recently been made in the detection of
tornadoes using Doppler radar.
Doppler radar can measure not just the distance to an object, but also its velocity
by using the Doppler
effect: if an object is moving toward an observer, radar waves
bounced off the object will have a higher frequency
than if the object were moving away. This effect can be demonstrated
waves. If a car is approaching with its horn sounding, the
pitch of the horn (that is, the frequency of the sound waves) seems to
rise. It reaches a peak just as the car pa****, then falls as the car
speeds away from the listener.
Doppler radar is used to detect the motion of raindrops and hail in a thunderstorm, which gives an indication of the
motion of the winds. With present technology it is possible to detect
the overall storm circulation and even a developing mesocyclone. The
relatively small size of a tornado makes direct detection very difficult
with the current generation of Doppler radar. In addition any radar is
limited by the curvature of Earth.
Radar waves go in straight lines, which means distant storms that are
"below the horizon" from the radar cannot be probed with this technique.
I would use radio, tv and blogspotters to track the storms and the most important one I would be watching the sky because you can never tell in a storm when a tornado will form. You can guess by using the knowledge that tornados unually form on the edge of the storm and if you see a hook echo on the tv radar there is a good chance there is a tornado forming.
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air which descends from a thunderstorm to the ground. No other weather phenomenon can match the
fury and destructive power of tornadoes. Tornadoes can be strong enough
to destroy large buildings, leaving only the bare concrete foundation.
In addition, they can lift 20-ton railroad cars from their tracks and
they can drive straw and blades of grass into tree and telephone poles.
The truth is that scientists don't fully understand how tornadoes form. Typically, tornadoes develop several thousand feet above the
earth's surface inside of a severe rotating thunderstorm. This type of
storm is called a supercell thunderstorm. The spinning of these
supercell thunderstorms is visible via Doppler radar.
A supercell is an organized thunderstorm that contains a very strong, rotating updraft. This rotation helps to produce severe weather
events such as large hail, strong downbursts, and tornadoes. Supercell
storms are usually isolated from other thunderstorms because it allows
them to have more energy and moisture from miles around. These storms
are rare, but always a threat to life and property.
A tornado begins as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud extending from a thunderstorm cloud base. A funnel cloud is made visible by cloud
droplets, however, in some cases it can appear to be invisible due to
lack of moisture. When the funnel cloud is half-way between the cloud
base and the ground, it is called a tornado. The tornado's high-speed
winds rotate about a small, relatively calm center, and suck up dust and
debris, making the tornado darker and more easily seen.
Tornado paths range from 100 yards to one mile wide and are rarely more than 15 miles long. They can last from several seconds to more than
an hour, however, most don't exceed 10 minutes. Most tornadoes travel
from the southwest to northeast with an average speed of 30 mph, but the
speed has been observed to range from almost no motion to 70 mph.
Most tornadoes occur in the deep south and in the broad, relatively flat basin between the Rockies and the Appalachians, but no state is
immune. Peak months of tornado activity in the U.S. are April, May, and
June. However, tornadoes have occurred in every month and at all times
of the day or night. A typical time of occurrence is on an unseasonably
warm and sultry Spring afternoon between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Tornadoes form under a certain set of weather conditions in which three very different types of air come together in a certain way. Near
the ground lies a layer of warm and humid air, along with strong south
winds. Colder air and strong west or southwest winds lie in the upper
atmosphere. Temperature and moisture differences between the surface and
the upper levels create what we call instability.
A necessary ingredient for tornado formation. The change in wind speed
and direction with height is known as wind shear. This wind shear is
linked to the eventual development of rotation from which a tornado may
A third layer of hot dry air becomes established between the warm moist air at low levels and the cool dry air aloft. This hot layer acts
as a cap and allows the warm air underneath to warm further...making the
air even more unstable. Things start to happen when a storm system
aloft moves east and begins to lift the various layers. Through this
lifting process the cap is removed, thereby setting the stage for
explosive thunderstorm development as strong updrafts develop. Complex
interactions between the updraft and the surrounding winds may cause the
updraft to begin rotating-and a tornado is born.
The Great Plains of the Central United States are uniquely suited to bring all of these ingredients together, and so have become known as
"Tornado Alley." The main factors are the Rocky Mountains to the west,
the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and a terrain that slopes downward from
west to east.
During the spring and summer months southerly winds prevail across the plains. At the origin of those south winds lie the warm waters of
the Gulf of Mexico, which provide plenty of warm,
humid air needed to fuel severe thunderstorm
development. Hot dry air forms over the higher elevations to the west,
and becomes the cap as it spreads eastward over the moist Gulf air.
Where the dry air and the Gulf air meet near the ground, a boundary
known as a dry line forms to the west of Oklahoma. A storm system moving
out of the southern Rockies may push the dry line eastward, with severe
thunderstorms and tornadoes forming along the dry line or in the moist
air just ahead of it.
Dr. T. Theodore Fujita, a pioneer in the study of tornadoes and severe thunderstorm phenomena, developed the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale
(F-Scale) to provide estimates of tornado strength based on damage
surveys. Since it is extremely difficult to make direct measurements of
tornado winds, an estimate of the winds based on damage is the best way
to classify them. The new Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF-Scale) addresses
some of the limitations identified by meteorologists and engineers since
the introduction of the Fujita Scale in 1971. Variability in the
quality of construction and different local building codes made
classifying tornadoes in a uniform manner difficult. In many cases,
these inconsistencies led to overestimates in the strength of tornadoes.
The new scale identifies 28 different free standing structures most
affected by tornadoes taking into account construction quality and
maintenance. The range of tornado intensities remains as before, zero to
five, with 'EF0' being the weakest, associated with very little damage
and 'EF5' representing complete destruction, which was the case in
Greensburg, Kansas on May 4th, 2007, the first tornado classified as
'EF5'. The EF scale was adopted on February 1, 2007.
The Storm Prediction Center has a brief description of the new Enhanced
Fujita Scale. Here's
the full report submitted by the Wind Science and Engineering Center at
Texas Tech University in PDF format.
A modification of the original Fujita Scale developed by "Dr. Tornado", T. Theodore Fujita of the University of Chicago.
|New EF Scale:||Old F-Scale:||Typical Damage:|
|EF0 (65-85 mph)||F0 (65-73 mph)||Light damage. Peels surface off some roofs; some damage to gutters or siding; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted trees pushed over.|
|EF1 (86-110 mph)||F1 (73-112 mph)||Moderate damage. Roofs severely stripped; mobile homes overturned or badly damaged; loss of exterior doors; windows and other glass broken.|
|EF2(111-135 mph)||F2 (113-157 mph)||Considerable damage. Roofs torn off well-constructed houses; foundations of frame
homes shifted; mobile homes completely destroyed; large trees snapped
or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground.
|EF3 (136-165 mph)||F3 (158-206 mph)||Severe damage. Entire stories of well-constructed houses destroyed; severe damage to
large buildings such as shopping malls; trains overturned; trees
debarked; heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown; structures with
weak foundations blown away some distance.
|EF4 (166-200 mph)||F4 (207-260 mph)||Devastating damage. Wh*** frame houses Well-constructed houses and wh*** frame houses completely leveled; cars thrown and small missiles generated.|
|EF5 (>200 mph)||F5 (261-318 mph)||Incredible damage. Strong frame houses leveled off foundations and swept away;
automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 m (109
yd); high-rise buildings have significant structural deformation;
incredible phenomena will occur.
|EF No rating||F6-F12 (319 mph to speed of sound)||Inconceivable damage. Should a tornado with the maximum wind speed in excess of F5 occur, the extent and types of damage may not be
conceived. A number of missiles such as iceboxes, water heaters, storage
tanks, automoblies, etc.will create serious secondary damage on
Continued vigilance and quick response to tornado watches and warnings are critical, since tornadoes can strike virtually anywhere at
any time. Most tornadoes are abrupt at onset, short-lived and often
obscured by rain or darkness. The best way to deal with them is
preparedness. Every individual and business should have a tornado
emergency plan for their homes and places of work, and should learn how
to protect themselves in cars, open country, and other situations that
Remember if a tornado warning is issued for your area, a tornado is imminent. Know what to do--have an emergency plan to protect yourself
and those for whom you are responsible. Quick response when a tornado
approaches can save many lives. There may be only seconds in which to
There are 5 Basic Steps in the National Weather Service warning system. Every part of the system has to work for the greatest number of people to get the warning in time.
Meteorologists using the latest in computers, radar and satellite data are always monitoring the weather elements. When a high probability
of severe weather exists, a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch is
issued. Watches may be issued hours before any severe storm hits the
area. The forecasters at the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in
Kansas City, Missouri use every tool available including satellite
pictures, radar reports, and numerous weather charts to predict the
areas where severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are likely to occur.
Severe weather spotters are constantly being trained under the Skywarn training program. Spotting severe weatheris serious business and
requires specific training. However, once an observer is trained in
severe weather spotting procedures, they are one of the most reliable
tools of the National Weather Service meteorologist. Spotters serve as
the National Weather Service's eyes in the field.
Any information that the National Weather Service issues is relayed to individual cities and towns through state and local civil defense, and the State Police.
The vast majority of people are reached through the cooperation of the media. A direct line between the National Weather Service and local
media offices insures that severe weather information is relayed quickly
and broadcast within the shortest time possible.
Users include everyone within the severe thunderstorm or tornado warning area. We want to reach the greatest number of people possible
and provide a concise, yet persuasive message of necessary action. Even
if every other step in the warning system works, it does little good
unless the users know what to do, and act.
The deadliest tornado outbreak in U.S. history occured on March 18, 1925. 747 people were killed and 2,027 were injured in Missouri,
Illinois, and Indiana when several twisters touched down on this day.
The largest of these tornadoes, named the "Tri-State", took 695 lives
and was classified as an F5. It moved over 215 miles of land at 60-73
The longest tornado path was reported to have traveled from Missouri to Indiana in 1917. It was on the ground for 7 hours and 20
minutes. Because there was no damage report filed, its difficult to know
if this tornado actually stayed on the ground for the entire time, or
if it was the result of several tornadoes. The shortest reported tornado
was 7 feet long.
Mobile Doppler radar reported one twister on May 3, 1999 as having winds as fast as 318 mph. The winds swirling around a tornado vortex
have been reported to be on the range of 280-300 mph. Scientists have
found that the strongest winds occur about 300 feet above the ground.
Most tornadoes, however, fail to have wind speeds in excess of 113 mph.
NO! Opening your windows and doors may in fact increase the damage to your house and make you suseptible to being struck by flying glass.
Instead, use that time to find a safe spot under heavy furniture and
away from windows. Any openings, including garage doors, that allow wind
to enter a building increases the chance for damage.
The number of tornadoes that occur each year is not increasing, but the number of spotted and reported tornadoes is. The reason for this is
that more people live in or travel through tornado prone areas than
used to. This has led to better communication and reportings of severe
In addition to the thousands of National Weather Service trained severe weather spotters, NEXRAD Doppler radars detect severe weather.
These radars spot large scale rotation from which many tornadoes form.
NEXRAD does not detect every tornado, but it is likely that they will
provide advance warning for large twisters.
|Tornado Safety Rules|
We can do little to prevent a tornado from occurring, but by knowing the safety rules we can minimize the number of deaths and injuries.
A tornado watch means that tornado development is possible. Keep a watchful eye on the sky for threatening
weather and stay tuned to radio and television and listen for weather
A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar. Persons in the path of the storm
should seek shelter immediately - preferably in a storm cellar,
underground excavation, or in a steel-framed or concrete reinforced
A severe thunderstorm warning means that either spotters or radar have indicated that severe weather is occuring,
and is expected to be heading towards you soon. This warning is issued
by the National Weather Service local office, and usually covers a few
counties, lasting about an hour or so. A thunderstorm is classified as
severe because it can contain hail three-quarter inches or larger,
and/or wind gusts of 58 mph or higher, and/or a tornado. When a warning
is issued, persons should remain indoors until the storm has passed.
In homes,the basement offers the greatest safety. Seek shelter under sturdy furniture if possible. In homes without basements take cover in the center part of the
house, on the lowest floor, in a small room such as a closet or
bathroom, or under sturdy furniture. Stay away from
In schools, hospitals, and shopping centers move to pre-designated shelter areas. Interior hallways on lowest floors are best. If
the building is not of reinforced construction,
go to a nearby one that is, or take cover outside on low, protected
ground. Stay out of auditoriums, gymnasiums, and other
structures with wide free-span roofs.
In open country, move away from the tornado's path at right angles. If there is not time to escape,lie flat in the nearest ditch or ravine.
In your car, do not try to outrun a tornado. If available take shelter in a sturdy structure. Otherwise, get in the nearest ditch or depression until the tornado pa****.
Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to overturning during strong winds and should be evacuated when strong winds or tornadoes are
forecast. Damage can be minimized by securing trailers with cables
anchored in concrete footing. Trailer parks should have some community
storm shelters. If there is no shelter nearby, leave the
trailer park and take cover on low-protected ground.
I have been in F5 tornados and to me there is a thrill to it because the air is electrified and the hair on the back of your head and arms stand up. But no body moves quicker to shelter than I do. Very nightmare inducing.
The threat is real and one of my earliest memories is being tucked under my nieghbors arms with my shoes flopping off as we ran to an underground shelter. Very scary, very exciting but you do not want to mess with these violent acts of nature for they will turn on you like a rabid dog.