One of the other well-known tornado facts is that tornadoes connect from the ground to the clouds in the sky. Some famous movies feature scenes with tornadoes, and we often think of the Midwest United States when we think of tornadoes.
Scientists aren’t in agreement about whether or not a tornado over the ocean should be considered a tornado. While tornadoes occur all over the world, our popular image of the tornado is in fact not far from the truth. It is possible that this is not one of the tornado facts, and that the word tornado was actually derived directly from tronada. When a large storm front, such as the one generated by Hurricane Katrina, creates a series of tornadoes, this is considered a tornado outbreak. While a rope tornado may appear wispy, it’s one of the established tornado facts that the average tornado in the United States is roughly 500 feet, or 150 meters, in diameter.
A lot of tornado facts are concerned with the appearance of a tornado because of its awesome and overwhelming nature.
It’s often difficult to hear the sound of a tornado over the accompanying thunderstorm that is the source of the tornado.
It’s one of the ironic tornado facts that the sound of a tornado is not a reliable way for people to detect tornadoes. Tornadoes move with their thunderstorm clouds because they are connected at the top to the cyclone of air within the cloud. When these objects and the swirling air of the tornado impact a structure that people have built, such as a building, or house, the effects can be devastating.
The average wind speed of a tornado is over 100 miles per hour, or over 150 kilometers per hour! The TORRO scale or T-scale was developed by the Tornado and Storm Research Organization in the United Kingdom. Of course, the higher the wind speed, the more likely a tornado is to cause significant damage. From the 1950s onward, the United States began to develop a series of tornado warning systems in the Midwest, where most of the tornadoes in the world occur. These storm spotters are part of a program called Skywarn that trains local law enforcement, rescue workers and ordinary citizens to help detect and report tornadoes. While this is not one of the tornado facts we should encourage our kids to explore, it’s inspiring to know that people are risking their lives to help save others. Our common image of the tornado appearing over farmland is actually one of the true tornado facts. Tornadoes don’t last for very long, so capturing tornado facts through scientific measurements is not easy.
Tornadoes connect the ground to cumulonimbus and cumulus clouds, which are the cloud types typically associated with storms. The picture of a tornado moving through farmland in the Midwest is the popular iconic image of a tornado.


Tornadoes have been witnessed on every continent except Antarctica, and also occur over the ocean. Most tornadoes occur in a particular part of the Midwest United States, which has come to be known as Tornado Alley.
Hurricane Katrina spun off a tornado and caused severe damage to an airplane hangar in the Florida Keys. When a storm spins off more than one tornado, these tornadoes are considered part of a tornado family. The storm front from Hurricane Katrina was so powerful that it still had enough energy to generate tornadoes as far north as Pennsylvania in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States.
When the bottom of the funnel cloud touches the ground, this spinning column of air has become a tornado.
Get ready for some mind-blowing tornado facts: tornadoes can be over one mile, or 1.5 kilometers, wide!
However, the infrasound created by a tornado can be used to detect tornadoes with the use of special audio equipment. The area where the tornado connects to the ground moves across the land as the cloud moves with the storm above. As a tornado moves, it hits anything in its path on the ground with a swirling mass of air. A powerful tornado can completely destroy a house, leaving it looking like nothing but a pile of wood! Tornadoes cause so much destruction because the wind speeds in the cyclone of air are incredibly high. In 1953, a particular type of radar signature called a hook echo was associated with the thunderstorms that produce tornadoes. Scientists are getting better at understanding which radar signatures are associated with tornadoes and the thunderstorms that create them.
In the United States, there are storm spotters who are trained to recognize the signs of severe weather that could lead to a tornado. The tornado facts that storm chasers gather help scientists improve their ability to detect tornadoes. Tornado facts help us protect ourselves against these powerful storms, and to get better at predicting when and where tornadoes will occur.
Tornadoes are sometimes called twisters or cyclones, and both of these names refer to the spinning and contorting nature of the rapidly swirling air that defines a tornado. Unless this funnel-shaped column of air touches the ground, it is not considered a true tornado. The storm front from Hurricane Katrina caused additional tornadoes across the Eastern part of the United States. These multiple tornadoes can occur at the same time, or one tornado after another can be created by a storm. Because of the way tornadoes are formed, and the fact that the swirling air causes condensation of water vapor, most tornadoes are visible to us.


In Nebraska on May 22, 2004, there was a tornado that was over 2.5 miles, or over four kilometers, wide at its base!
While a lot of attention is paid to what tornadoes look like, there are some lesser-known tornado facts about what tornadoes sound like.
When most people hear a tornado, it sounds like a whooshing sound, or the sound of air rushing.
Scientists are exploring ways to use infrasound as a means of detecting tornadoes in order to provide early warning to people who may be in a tornado’s path. Storms often generate one tornado after another, and these multiple tornadoes are sometimes mistaken for one continuous tornado. Because many tornado facts are only revealed after the storm has passed, scientists evaluate the damage, and rate the tornado, on the Fujita Scale from F0 to F5. Unlike the Fujita scale, the TORRO scale is based on the wind speed of the tornado, and not the destruction it causes.
Tornadoes move so quickly that they can sometimes form before the data from radar showing the tornado’s activity has even been retrieved and processed by computers! As tornado detection gets better, more people can be evacuated sooner in the event of a tornado, and more lives can be saved. Efforts to learn more tornado facts, including improving our ability to detect tornadoes, have been focused in the Midwest for this reason. People spotting tornadoes early on, and informing authorities immediately, is still our best line of defense against these powerhouses of nature. Tornadoes fascinate us so much that there are even tornado chasers who track down these destructive storms to get more tornado facts. Other large tornadoes can take on a large V-shape, and are called wedges, or wedge tornadoes. The swirling mass of a tornado can contain rocks, sticks and other dense objects, moving rapidly through the air.
When adequate shelter is not available, people sometimes die as a result of injuries caused by a tornado. However, tornadoes traveling over 100 miles have been confirmed, including one tornado in 1925 that traveled over 200 miles! While some argue about which scale is better, one of our tornado facts is certain: we wouldn’t want to be in the path of any tornado that is ranked high on either scale! When a tornado loses strength, it starts to appear wispy and more twisted, and these tornadoes are known as rope tornadoes.



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