Violent tornadoes swept through the southern United States on April 27, killing almost 300 people in six states and leaving a million without power. The Mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama reported, “We have neighborhoods that have basically been removed from the map.” Scientists are questioning whether climate change played a role in the unusual number of intense storms this April.
- Tornadoes are vertical columns of air that spin very quickly in a funnel shape. Twister is another name for a tornado.
- The strongest tornadoes develop from gigantic thunderstorms, called super-cells.
- Tornadoes form within a thunderstorm cell when the speed and direction of the wind changes.
- The dark funnel clouds in tornadoes are transparent (without color) until the tornado picks up debris (objects) and dust.
- Tornadoes are classified on the F-scale based on their wind speed and the damage they cause. F-O tornadoes are the weakest and F-5 tornadoes are the most severe, with wind-speeds up to 318 miles per hour.
- An approaching tornado can sound as loud as a freight-train! Other warning signs include hail and a darkening sky with a greenish tint.
- During a tornado it is safest to be on the lowest level of a house in a small room away from any windows.