The Anatomy of a Tornado

A tornado is a column of air that rotates around and around at varying speeds which is a product of a severe thunderstorm. When warm, wet air moving upwards meet with cold, dry air moving downwards, the point where the two winds collide and struggle to go through each other, is where the air begins to rotate in a circular motion. This circular motion begins to form a funnel. As the warm air and the cold air continue to push against each other in opposite directions, the speed of th circular rotation of the funnel cloud begins to increase. As long as the cloud is in the air, it is a funnel cloud. When the funnel cloud touches the ground, it is now a tornado. The air needs to be twisting, and the speed of the circular motion must gradually increase in order for the column of twisting air to stand up horizontally.

Tornadoes can be extremely destructive and violent. The wind speeds within the tornado can reach over 300 miles per hour. The diameter of a tornado can be 200 to 300 yards. The wind speed does not determine the size of a tornado. Wind speed is determined by the difference between the atmospheric pressure on the outside of the funnel and the pressure inside of the funnel. The larger the difference between the two pressures, the faster the speed will be. A tornado can produce a pathway that is over 1 mile wide and 50 miles long. Within this path you will find building that are a heap of lumber, trees pulled up out of the ground complete with their entire root system intact, people and animals will be killed, crops will be destroyed, and complete communities and shopping district will be demolished. Cars and trucks have been found across town after being pick up and blown miles away from home.

The Fujita Scale (also known as the F-Scale or Fujita-Pearson Scale) is a scale used to rate the damage intensity of a tornado. The scale ranges from F0 F6. Here is an explanation for each rating.

F0 = wind speed between 40-72 miles per hour
F1 = wind speed between 73-112 miles per hour
F2 = wind speed between 113-157 miles per hour
F3 = wind speed between 158-206 miles per hour
F4 = wind speed between 207-260 miles per hour
F5 = wind speed between 261-318 miles per hour
F6 = wind speed between 319-379 miles per hour

Size does not determine the destruction capabilities of a tornado, the speed determines how much will be destroyed.

Within minutes, your life could be changed forever. A sunny day could turn into a nightmare of thunderstorms, killer winds, and hail. 800 tornadoes can be reported in a given year. This can result in over 80 deaths, 1,500 injuries, and millions of dollars of total destruction of homes, businesses, and farmland.