Well, Now You Know - #6 What Causes a Tornado?

in #science4 years ago

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Hello, and welcome to today's episode of WNYK. This is a series posted every few days where I breakdown and discuss a topic of interest that is predominantly focused around a scientific or natural phenomena.

Todays topic is all about tornado's. Personally, living in the UK I have no real life experience with tornado's, but they have always fascinated me. This interest was probably sparked watching the 1996 blockbuster 'Twister'... which i'm sure everyone can agree is an absolute gem of a film.

But, anyway, lets begin!

Tornado Background Information

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Source: National Geographic

Tornado's can develop in many areas throughout the globe but the majority occur across the central states within the US such as Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma. It is estimated that there are over 1000 tornado's alone every year within the US, although it is difficult to give a more precise figure as many go unseen or reported.

While researching for this article I was amazed to find that my home, the UK, also experiences around 30 tornado's every year, and parts of Australia experience tornado's throughout the year but are more common during late spring - early summer.

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Source: NOAA

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, on average each year tornado's cause 80 deaths and lead to over 1500 related injuries.

What causes a tornado to form?

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Tornados usually occur during a thunderstorm when different temperatures and humidity meet each other. These conditions most commonly occur in the central US states when humid winds travelling north from the gulf of Mexico meet cold dry winds moving south from Canada.

As the two winds meet each other, the warm air tries to rise but cannot as it becomes trapped by the colder dry air, this causes the warm air to begin to rotate. More warm air is created and begins to rise when the sun heats the ground, eventually the mass of warm air becomes too much for the cold air to contain. Eventually the cold air is pushed below the warm air and it forms a destructive twisting column of air.

The twister is often not visible by the naked human eye until the spinning air collects enough dust and debris from the ground that it becomes visible.

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Source: BlogSpot

The wind speeds of a tornado can reach over 300 km/h and can last from anywhere between 1 and 40 minutes, also causing damage in a 16 km radius!

What was the most devastating tornado ever recorded?

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In May, 2013, the worlds biggest ever recorded tornado left a path of pure destruction in Oklahoma, its name... El Reno. The giant storm reached an incredible 2.6 miles in width and had winds approaching 300 mph during it's 40 minute life span!

The tornado was given the highest possible severity rating of EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita scale and left 18 people dead, including 4 storm chasers.

I would love to know if any of you Steemians have any real life experience with tornado's or just what you thought of the article down below.

If you would like to check them out my previous posts they linked below.


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1st image source : Geek, hr