Tornadoes

Tornadoes are the most powerful, unpredictable and destructive weather systems on Earth. The National Weather Service (NWS) defines a Tornado as a violently rotating column of air in contact with the earth’s surface (land or water) and commonly associated with a severe thunderstorm. A tornado generally occurs when high winds within a low pressure system (such as a thunderstorm) cause water vapor in the air to condense in to a condensation funnel cloud. Many less severe tornadoes are not even visible to the human eye. Major tornadoes usually become more visible when the strong winds within the funnel lift up dirt and debris off the Earth’s surface. Tornadoes are generally classified as either a land spout (a tornado on land), a water spout (a tornado that forms over water) or a gustnado (a small tornado caused by a strong downburst of wind from a thunderstorm). The average tornado has maximum wind speeds of about 112 mph or less, measures around 250 feet in width and travels approximately one mile before falling apart. Some of the most catastrophic tornadoes in recorded history have had winds in excess of 300 miles an hour (twice that of a category 5 hurricane), have measured more than 2 miles in girth, and have carved devastating paths of destruction miles and miles in length.
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Tornado Alert in Central US: The Science of Severe Storms
Tornado Probabilities Map - April 8, 2015
April 8th, 2015
A wide swath of the central United States is at risk of thunderstorms and possible tornadoes over the next couple of days, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
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Global Warming May Spawn More Southeast US Tornadoes
Tornado
February 7th, 2015
While the tornado total will climb by 2100, the number of tornadoes will also swing wildly from year to year.
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Nature's Fury: Gripping Images of Natural Disasters
Campo tornado (Oklahoma, 2010)
November 13th, 2014
From earthquakes to volcanic eruptions to hurricanes, natural disasters reveal the fearsome power of Mother Nature. Scientists are studying these phenomena to better understand them and find better ways to predict and prepare for them.
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Deadly Oklahoma Twister Ends Slow Start to Tornado Season
Moore tornado 2015
March 26th, 2015
The oddly calm tornado season owes a debt to the weather patterns responsible for the East's cold, snowy spring and the West's warm, dry drought.
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Fires Intensified Deadly Tornado Outbreak
Smoke and tornadoes
February 3rd, 2015
One of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history was strengthened by smoke from burning farmlands in Central America, a new study suggests.
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Terrifying Tornado Clusters on the Rise
Tornado
October 16th, 2014
Tornadoes are touching down in clusters more often than 50 years ago.
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Enormous Tornado-Blocking Walls: Could Wild Idea Really Work?
Rubble in Moore, Oklahoma, where a tornado struck in May 2013.
June 30th, 2014
Never mind the huge cost, ecological consequences and engineering difficulties involved in a newly proposed scheme to make tornado-blocking walls, weather experts say the idea is too crazy to work.
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El Niño Can Predict Tornado Season's Severity
Rope Tornado
March 16th, 2015
This year's El Niño may deliver a quiet tornado season.
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'Nature's Fury': NYC Exhibit Explores Science of Natural Disasters
Erupting volcano
November 13th, 2014
From the eruption that buried Pompeii in A.D. 79 to the superstorm that shut down New York City in 2012, natural disasters are an unavoidable part of life on Earth. Once thought to be the wrath of the gods, these formidable events now have widely accepted
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Tornado Season Peaking Earlier Than Ever
Supercell Storm
September 19th, 2014
The busiest part of tornado season is happening up to two weeks earlier than it did 55 years ago, reports a new study on Tornado Alley, located in the heart of the central and southern U.S. Great Plains.
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