he extreme weather, including a near-record number of tornadoes, in 2011 forced the debate of the impact of climate change on severe weather to resurface.
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.
The United States leads the world in absolute tornado counts, with an average of more than a thousand twisters annually.
Cuteness alerts, dangerous weather and some of Earth's coolest sights, all in our top picks this week.
Spring's arrival, both beautiful and terrifying, begin our choices this week. Check out what we found.
Tornadoes’ awesome energy gives them a chaotic nature – but there are some hints for why certain vehicles get tossed.
Warm water in the Gulf of Mexico will provide the moist, unstable air that leads to storms and tornadoes.
Sharks, leopards, seahorses and wolverines. Many of our top picks this week highlight various animals across the world. Check these out.
For the U.S. insurance industry, 2011 was the costliest year on record due devastating earthquakes and storms.