Tornado Facts

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The US Has the Highest Frequency of Tornadoes in the World

Tornado Frequency by State Map

Tornado Frequency by State Map

Tornado facts reveal that the US is hit by tornadoes more often than any other part of the world; approximately 3 out of every 4 tornadoes occur in the US. Out of approximately 1,200 tornadoes that occur every year here, most of them occur in Tornado Alley – an area in the Central United States between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains. The most affected states are therefore Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, although Florida is also frequently hit by tornadoes.

The Strength of Tornadoes Is Measured by the Enhanced Fujita Scale

The EF-scale, as it is also known, replaced the old Fujita scale a few years ago in North America, although it was introduced to the world in the early 1970s by the American-Japanese storm researcher Ted Fujita. It retained the old 6-level classification, but each level was defined anew. EF0 level signifies tornadoes that cause no real damage, and EF5 level signifies the most devastating tornadoes that cause almost total destruction.

Wind Speeds inside a Tornado Can Reach over 300 Miles per Hour

Tornado Speed

Tornado Speed

According to the Fujita scale, which was used for classification of tornadoes in the USA until 2007, the highest category of tornadoes, F5, brings winds with speeds between 261 mph and 318 mph. For comparison, the highest wind speed ever recorded outside a tornado was 253 mph during Cyclone Olivia in 1996. When it comes to speed, tornadoes are without a doubt the champions of nature…

The Moving Speed of Tornadoes Can Reach up to 70 Miles per Hour

Although the speed of wind inside a tornado sometimes reaches 300 mph, the speed with which a tornado moves across land (or water) is much lower – at most 70 mph. But even at that speed, tornadoes are hard to get away from. Finding a car that goes faster than that is not a problem nowadays, but being aware of the tornado approaching soon enough to escape its path often is.

The Most Devastating Tornadoes Kill People, Destroy Houses and Tear out Trees

US Tornado Deaths

US Tornado Deaths

Tornadoes that are categorized as EF5 according to the Enchanted Fujita scale can have devastating consequences – strong frame houses are lifted off foundations and carried through the air, steel-reinforced concrete structures are badly damaged, tall buildings may collapse and cars are sent flying. But even an EF3 category tornado can cause havoc – entire stories of houses destroyed, trains overturned, and trees debarked.

Tornadoes Usually Last for Only a Few Minutes

Tornado facts reveal that most tornadoes last for a few minutes and then dissipate. However, there have been occasions when tornadoes lasted for a full hour or two. The absolute record holder in terms of duration is the Tri-State Tornado, which roared through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana for 3.5 hours in 1925. Being also the fastest forward moving tornado of all time (moving at up to 73 mph), it caused devastation all over a very large area.

The First Recorded Tornado Hit Europe in 1054

There is no doubt that tornadoes have been sweeping the Earth for thousands of years, but the first recorded tornado occurred in the 11th century in Ireland’s Rosdalla, near Kilbeggan. The first observed tornado in America allegedly hit the old city of Tlatelolco (now Mexico City) in 1521, only two days before the famous Spanish conquistador Cortés conquered the city. The first confirmed tornado in the present-day USA occurred in 1671 in Massachusetts.

There Have Been 60 F5 or EF5 Tornadoes in North America since the 1950s

The phenomenon was systematically observed only from the 1950s, but prior to that, there were several dozen other tornadoes that could be classified as the highest level. Among the 60 recorded since the 1950s, 59 occurred in the USA and one in Canada. The last undisputedly ranked EF5 tornado in North America occurred in Moore, Oklahoma in May 2013. It caused widespread damage, and 24 victims were confirmed to have died in the tornado.

Tornadoes in Bangladesh Have Claimed more than 100,000 Lives

Although no other part of the world is hit by tornadoes more frequently than North America, it is actually the South Asian country of Bangladesh that has had the most tornado victims. Just 19 violent tornadoes recorded in the country have killed more than 100,000 people, which is more than a half of all tornado victims around the globe.

Most Tornadoes Spin in the Cyclonic Direction

Although there have been some cases of tornadoes that spun in the anti-cyclonic direction, most of them go cyclonic. What does that mean? It depends on the Hemisphere in which they occur; in the Northern Hemisphere, cyclonic means counterclockwise, and in the Southern Hemisphere, it means clockwise.

A Man Travelled over 1,000 Feet in a Tornado and Survived

Matt Suter, Tornado Survivor

Matt Suter, Tornado Survivor

Many similar tornado facts can be found on the web, but only one of these facts talks about the record holder in surviving the longest journey inside a tornado. Matt Suter from Fortland, Missouri was carried by a ravaging tornado for exactly 1,307 feet in March 2006.

Codell Is the Unluckiest Town in the US Tornado-wise

Can you believe that this small town in Kansas got hit by a tornado three years in a row on the exact same day? That’s right – May 20 in 1916, 1917 and 1918 was a really special date for the inhabitants of Codell. Especially considering that out of 100,000 thunderstorms that hit the US every year, less than 1% become a tornado…

The Town of Tanner Was Hit by 2 F5 Tornadoes only 45 Minutes Apart

The residents of Tanner, Alabama will never forget April 3 1974, when they were hit by the rushing power of an F5 tornado. Especially since another F5 tornado hit them on the same day, only 45 minutes after the first one. Furthermore, Tanner was again hit by an F5 37 years later, again in the month of April. When it rains, it pours…

The 1896 St. Louis – East St. Louis Tornado Is the Most Costly Tornado in US History

Adjusted for wealth of the time and inflation, this tornado caused approximately $2.9 billion worth of damage. The second most costly tornado? Much nearer in history – the Joplin tornado of 2011 caused approximately $2.8 billion of damage.

The Tri-State Tornado Is the Deadliest Tornado in US History

Tragically, 695 people lost their lives in the violent tornado that hit Missouri, Illinois and Indiana in March 1925. Illinois lost 613 people in the deadly storm, Indiana 71 and Missouri 11.

Tornadoes Most Often Occur between 3 PM and 9 PM

Tornado Time of Occurrence

Tornado Time of Occurrence

Tornado facts also reveal when this natural beast is most likely to attack. Although there is no general rule about the time of the day when tornados are most likely to form, statistics show that they most frequently occur between 3 PM and 9 PM.

The Famous Crop Circles in the UK Might Be Caused by Tornadoes

Not aliens or a mysterious higher power – crop circles that are found across the UK could be caused by mini tornadoes: whirlwinds. About 60 of these small tornadoes are formed each year and are possibly responsible for creating the interesting crop circles that sometimes look as if made deliberatly by an intelligent being…

Texas Gets Hit by 125 Tornadoes per Year

That makes Texas the number one tornado-prone US state, followed by Oklahoma with 57 tornadoes per year on average and Kansas and Florida with 55 tornadoes each. Alaska, Rhode Island and Vermont are the luckiest states in this regard, since they get hit by less than 1 tornado per year on average. Alaska has actually been hit by only 2 tornadoes since 1950 – both were F0 level, causing no real damage.

The Deadliest Tornado Outbreak Consisted of 355 Separate Tornadoes

At the end of April 2011, the Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern US were shaken by 355 tornadoes in the span of only four days. Of these four days, April 27 was by far the worst – 211 tornadoes in one single day, among them four that were rated EF5.

The TORRO Scale Is Also Used for Assessing Tornado Strength

Most US residents know only the Fujita and Enhanced Fujita scales, but tornado facts reveal that a third major scale, developed in the UK, is also often used. It ranges from T0 to T11 (the latter being the most violent) and differs from the both Fujita scales by considering wind speed (and not damage caused) as the main factor of tornado strength.

Tornado Facts – Facts about Tornadoes Summary

Tornado FactsTornadoes are destructive vortexes of fast-twirling winds that start in the clouds and go all the way down to the ground. They are formed from thunderstorms which have enough atmospheric instability and wind shear. Although all continents except Antarctica have experienced tornadoes, North America experiences these violent storms more frequently than any other part of the world – approximately 1,200 every year. In the US, tornado strength is determined by using the Enhanced Fujita scale, which considers the damage tornadoes cause. The most violent tornadoes are ranked EF5 and can destroy whole buildings, fly cars around in the air for thousands of feet and cause multiple deaths.

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