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Tornado: Facts And Folklore
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Tornado: Facts And Folklore

It’s not officially spring yet, but severe storms and tornados are already making the news and experts are warning 2012 could be a record year for tornados.

Deadly and mysterious, tornados can strike at any time of the day or night. Most of them, however, are on record as occurring between 3pm and 9pm at night.

To stay safe during these storms it’s important to know what actions have the best chance of keeping you safe. Some of the beliefs and superstitions people had in the past about tornados and “twisters” are known to be no longer true.

What Exactly is a tornado?

The start of a tornado is when warm air from the Gulf of Mexico clashes with a cold front from Canada. This causes the instability in the atmosphere that you hear the weatherman on TV talking about. From there, an increase in wind and a change in direction as it increases height creates a horizontal column of spinning air.

Then rising air inside this updraft tilts the rotating mass of air to a vertical position. Now the storm has an area of rotation in it. When this swirling vortex comes in contact with the ground, it is a tornado.

Tornado Facts

These violent storms can occur in any month. But usually “tornado season” is from early spring to mid summer. Here are some indicators a tornado may be in your vicinity:

  • The sky is green
  • Hail coming down from the sky on a warm day
  • A cloud with debris in it
  • It is storming and suddenly it gets quiet and still

Some misconceptions about what to do in a tornado are widely spread. It is reported that even the media sometimes gives incorrect information about severe weather. It is important to know the facts about modern folklore concerning tornados.

Using Highway Overpasses as Shelter

This myth is dangerously incorrect. The area underneath the overpass could become a wind tunnel if hit by the rotating winds of a tornado. The wind speeds could actually increase due to something called the Venturi effect. Several people have died by seeking shelter under these highway overpasses.

Open Windows and Doors

It does not help to open windows and doors if a tornado is approaching. This would be a waste of precious time. Homes do not “explode” due to the low pressure as was once thought. What happens is that the tornado breaks out the windows, and winds enter the home. Once this happens, the violent force of the wind blows off the roof by pushing up on it from the inside of the home.

It is of the utmost importance during severe weather to be aware of the warnings being issued by weather channels. Do this to stay safe during tornado season.


Street Talk

You're welcome, Shawn. I have been in some scary situations with tornados and severe storms. Once you experience a close call like this it makes you cautious from then on!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Funny, I have lived in the Midwest all my life and until last summer have been lucky to have never came close to one. Last summer my luck ran out and one passed me by about 300 feet! It was a small one but caused quite a bit of damage, but let me be as it passed. An experience I will never forget. Thanks for the article.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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