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Posted by Robin on May 21, 2018

A Basic Overview of Tornadoes

We’ve all seen a tornado at some point in our lives, whether it was in a movie (Twister, The Wizard of Oz, Sharknado), on the news, or if we were unfortunate enough to see the swirling vortex in person. Regardless of how we’ve been exposed to a tornado, we all know that the damages caused by the storm can be catastrophic. Given my interest in meteorology, I decided to do a little research and expand my knowledge of tornadoes.

The Glossary of Meteorology defines a tornado as “a visibly rotating column of air, in contact with the ground, either pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, and often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud.”  When a single storm produces more than one tornado, meteorologists refer to this group of tornadoes as a “tornado family.” Do not let the term confuse you. Even though this group of tornadoes creates a “family,” this family is not spending quality time around the dinner table. Rather, this “family” is causing severe destruction to anything unfortunate to be in its members’ paths.

A “tornado outbreak” is a phenomenon where multiple tornadoes are spawned by the same weather system. The most severe tornado outbreak occurred in 2011, and it was labeled the 2011 Super Outbreak. This outbreak consisted of 360 confirmed tornadoes over the southeastern United States. 216 of the 360 tornadoes were spawned in a single 24-hour period. Before this episode, the most tornados ever created within the same weather system was 148.

The deadliest single tornado in United States history occurred in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925. This tornado traveled over 200 miles and lasted about 3.5 hours. The tornado was once recorded as traveling at the fast speed of 73 mph. Over the course of the 3.5 hours, this violent stormed destroyed everything in its path and ultimately killed 695 individuals. It truly is a tragic story that stresses how dangerous tornadoes can be.

Unfortunately, tornadoes can be found anywhere in the United States. During my research, I came across an article that emphasized this fact. The article described the tornado-prone region known as “Tornado Alley,” which covers the area from central Texas to northern Iowa. The article pointed out how Tornado Alley experiences a higher frequency of tornadoes than the rest of the country, and it explained how Texas has been hit hard by tornadoes recently. These storms have caused significant damage to homes and businesses in the region.

While exciting subjects in the study of meteorology, the dangers of tornadoes cannot be stressed enough. In a way, these violent, swirling storms have a natural beauty to them while at the same time being very ominous. The individuals in Tornado Alley are particularly susceptible to these vicious storms. Hopefully, no tornado outbreaks occur in this region in the near future. However, it wouldn’t be surprising when taking a look at the history of the area. It’s safe to say that several people in the region have had to or may have to in the future call upon a tornado damage insurance attorney.

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