Tornadoes touch down throughout the world, but they’re most prevalent east of the Rocky Mountains, during spring and summer. According to the National Weather Service, they receive reports of over 800 tornadoes each year that result in 80 deaths and 1500 injuries. Tornadoes may produce winds of over 250 mph, and follow a path a mile wide and 50 miles long.
Cause of Tornadoes
When a cold front comes from the east, and mixes with a pocket of moist air thunderstorms can form. These thunderstorms may produce wind, hailstorms and sometimes tornadoes. In late winter and early spring, more than one area or even multiple states may experience an eruption of tornadoes. This happens when a frontal system formed in the Central States, moves east.
Dry line Tornadoes
In the spring, tornadoes form along a border called a dry line. This is particular to the Central States, where a dry line is between warm, moist air from the east and dry air from the west. When the dry line moves east during the afternoon, thunderstorms form and may spawn a tornado.
The southern High Plains, the Rocky Mountains Front Range, and the Texas Panhandle may have upslope tornadoes. Tornado producing thunderstorms develop as air along the ground travels upwards toward higher ground. If weather conditions are right, tornadoes develop.
Hurricane and Tropical Storm Tornadoes
Sometimes, tornadoes travel alongside hurricanes and tropical storms, as they journey overland. Tornadoes usually develop ahead of, and to the right of the center of the storm, as it comes ashore.
Although they have patterns, tornadoes form anywhere and anytime. They can form along a line of thunderstorms, maybe be like glass and you see through them, until dust and rubbish from the ground begins to swirl. More than one can form at the same time and in same area. In late fall or late winter, tornadoes can form over water move to land, and wreak havoc.
Legend and Fact
If you’ve heard that if you live close to a river, lake or mountain you’re safe from a tornado. Not true, tornadoes can form anywhere.
If you’ve heard low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to explode, when a tornado is close. Not true, the velocity of the wind and rubbish hitting the building, cause the damage.
If you’ve heard windows should be left open in your house to equalize pressure. Not true, opening the window lets wind and rubbish into your house. Leave the window closed, and find a safe place to weather the storm.
No matter how common tornado warnings are where you live, don’t become complacent. Tornadoes are killers, and can quickly form and touch ground. At the first warning, seek safety.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service: Tornadoes: noaa.gov