Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Back down to the bottom

Tornadoes!

Tornadoes are a natural disaster that is very common to the world. They can create fear and destruction in just a few minutes. A tornado is a rotating column of air ranging in width from a few yards to more than a mile and whirling at destructively high speed, usually accompanied by a funnel-shaped downward extension of a cumulonimbus cloud, as told by dictionary.com.

Tornadoes are caused by specific conditions in the weather. These conditions begin when different temperatures and humidity begin to cause storm clouds. Then wet, warm winds and dry, cold winds come together to form what is called a dryline. The high, dry airs begin to move on top of the lower moist airs and when they merge the warm air begins to be trapped beneath the colder air. This causes a rotation between the air masses. When the sun begins to heat the air the air rises and starts to force its way up through the cold air and therefore pushes the colder air down. This results in twirling updrafts that can reach over 100 miles per hour. There is more than one type of Tornado. In fact, there are five different types of tornadoes that are all unique to their own characteristics. The Waterspout Tornado forms to a cumulous cloud over a body of water. These distinct tornados are composed when cold air accumulates over warm water. They are able to reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour, a height of up to 10,000 feet, and a moving speed around 10- 15 miles per hour.

The second type of tornado is the dust devil, this one is interesting because it does not thrive in an open aired climates. They actually form in the dusty conditions of a desert, for example, and also usually die down when the air becomes clean. With light, hot air moving up and creating a rotating motion, dirt and sand is kicked up to form this disaster than can reach speed of 60 miles per hour. A Gustnado is actually not a real tornado, as the others are classified. These are not directly connected to the thunderstorm that it may be around. They are just an imitation of a tornado by the swirling dust that is kicked up while the gust is blowing strong.

The Supercell Tornado is the largest and most dangerous one out of the five. The wind speed of this giant can reach speeds of up to 300 miles per hour. The greatest recorded width of a Supercell was over a mile wide. With these lasting at times four hours long, it is pretty obvious to why they are the most destructive. The last type of tornado is the Landspout, it is a narrow vortex that forms from a cumulus cloud and travels downwards toward the ground until it hits. With winds up to 140 miles per hour and only lasting a few minutes, the Landspout Tornado can come with great surprise and devastation.

Tornado Ratings
Rating
Windspeed (in MPH)
Damage
F0
< 73
Light
F1
74 - 112
Moderate
F2
113 - 157
Considerable
F3
158 - 206
Severe
F4
207 - 260
Devastating
F5
261 - 318
Incredible

Unfortunately for us, there are not too many precise ways to get advanced warnings about a tornado because of their spontaneous nature. In most of the states in the U.S. the only way they the people are warned is by meteorologists giving warnings out on the television that there are conditions that could sustain a tornado. Only in the states and areas that are considerably more prone to tornadoes are sirens installed around that area and set to go off when a tornado has touched down. In the last twelve years 39 billion dollars have been spend in the process of repairing and aiding the homes and families of tornado victims. The prior twelve years was severely less with the more recent era jumping 5 times what the previous one had cost.
A history of the worst tornadoes on record trails back to the late 1800s. The worst, the Tri- State Tornado, touched down in Desoto, Illinois crossing 14 counties, reaching average speeds of 62 miles per hour, and killed 234 people in the whole three and a half hours that the tornado was down. The tornado was also so devastating not just because of the number of people that it had killed, but for the cost of the damage which was over $10 million. The second worst tornado was the Natchez Tornado, this one struck in Louisiana and Mississippi. This devastating storm had a record death toll of about 269 people and a total cost of $1,260,000. The St. Louis/ East St. Louis Tornado tops out the charts at the third worst tornado on record. Like the Tri-State Tornado the cost was over $10 million, but the death toll was significantly lower with a count of 137 people in 1896.

Back up to the top

Go to the Bibliography