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All About Tornadoes

All About Tornadoes - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Dec 27, 2006
( Rating: 1 Star Rating)

Find out about tornadoes and what these natural disasters are really capable of.

Tornadoes don't really suck you into a different world like they did to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. They are, however, one of nature's most vicious storms. A tornado is a violently twisting column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. About 800 twisters happen across the US every year, leaving approximately 80 dead and over 1,500 injured.

Tornadoes - What is a Tornado?

After seeing the movie Twister you probably have some misconceptions about tornadoes. A tornado is a funnel-shaped, rotating column of air that occurs when two air currents coming from opposite directions meet up. One air current will be warm, while the other is cool. When they meet up, the warm air rises and the cold air falls, causing the current to begin to spin. Tornadoes are such powerful gusts of wind that they can often sound like an on-coming trian, a jet plane or a waterfall.

Tornadoes - AKA Waterspouts

Did you know that a waterspout is a tornado over water? These usually happen along the southeast US coast, especially off southern Florida and the Keys. Waterspouts are also smaller and weaker than most tornadoes - they usually only reach wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Their path of destruction can still be over one mile wide and 50 miles long, though.

Tornadoes - The Fujita-Pearson Scale

All tornadoes are rated on a scale called the Fujita-Pearson Tornado Scale. This shouldn't be confused with the Mexican fajita. It starts at zero (the weakest) and goes to five (the strongest).

  • F-0: 40-72 mph - Chimney damage, tree branches broken.
  • F-1: 73-112 mph - Mobile homes pushed off foundation or overturned.
  • F-2: 113-157 mph - Considerable damage, mobile homes demolished, trees uprooted.
  • F-3: 158-205 mph - Roofs and walls torn down, trains overturned, cars thrown.
  • F-4: 207-260 mph - Well-constructed walls leveled.
  • F-5: 261-318 mph - Homes lifted off foundation and carried considerable distances, cars thrown as far as 100 meters.

Tornadoes - Common Myths

Myth: Opening your window before a tornado will equalize pressure.
Truth: People open windows cuz they think if their house pressure is equalized the damage won't be as bad. All this does is allow damaging winds to enter the house. Leave the windows closed and get to a safe place.

Myth: The safest place to be during a tornado is in the southwest corner of the basement.
Truth: Always go to the lowest level and stay far away from walls and windows. A small interior room like the bathroom is structurally the strongest - and don't forget to cover your head!

Myth: Most tornadoes are the big ones you see in the news.
Truth: Most tornadoes are about 50 - 100 feet wide, only travel about one mile and last a few minutes. The large ones rarely happen in real life - contrary to what you see in the movies.

Myth: When on the road, it's safe to find shelter under an overpass.
Truth: Whatever you do, don't hide under an overpass. Forget the movies. Wind currents are stronger as they are squeezed under an overpass so the speed increases. This also means flying debris could cause serious injury or death.

Myth: Chickens are stripped of their feathers by tornadoes.
Truth: Chickens have been found without feathers after tornadoes so it was suggested the feathers exploded off the bird from the tornado's low pressure. A more reasonable explanation is that they lost most of their feathers from stress and a tornado blew off loosened feathers.

1We have had to go in the basement when a tornado was coming. We saw it and it just vanished.

Kidz Submit by:

Age: 10

1My dad has seen about 13 tornadoes.

Kidz Submit by:

Nickname: yu-gi-oh-jr
Age: 12

Have you had an experience with a twister? Maybe you've just seen it or perhaps lived thru one. .

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What Would be the Worst to be Trapped in?

  • Funnel of a tornado.
  • Inside a volcano, after it erupted.
  • An avalanche.
  • Quicksand.

Random In The Forums

reply 41 minutes
Unrung posted in Debating:
I’d like to commend my opponent for his formidable response. I will begin by defending the arguments I made in favor of a global flood, and will then respond to the arguments my opponent made that deny such a flood ever occurring. My friend was not persuaded by my first piece of evidence, being the separate accounts of a similar flood story from different cultures around the world. He claims that this evidence no more proves the flood to be true than any other myth. He says by my reasoning, the abundance of myths that involve multiple deities should therefore be proof of polytheism, or multiple accounts of dangerous man-killing creatures should suggest that such monsters really exist (or existed.) However, this argument is faulty. My friend is confusing general similarities with specific similarities. To say the stories of the Greek gods are similar to the stories of the Egyptian gods, would only be true in the sense that both collections of stories are polytheistic. When you get down to the finer details of the stories, there is little resemblance to be found. Now consider the condensed story of the flood from East Africa: “Tumbainot, a righteous man, had a wife named Naipande and three sons. [...] When his brother Lengerni died, Tumbainot, according to custom, married the widow Nahaba-logunja, who bore him three more sons. […] The world was heavily populated in those days, but the people were sinful and not mindful of God. […] At this, God resolved to destroy mankind, except Tumbainot found grace in His eyes. God commanded Tumbainot to build an ark of wood and enter it with his two wives, six sons and their wives, and some of animals of every sort. When they were all aboard and provisioned, God caused a great long rain which caused a flood, and all other men and beasts drowned. The ark drifted for a long time, and provisions began to run low. The rain finally stopped, and Tumbainot let loose a dove to ascertain the state of the flood. The dove returned tired, so Tumbainot knew it had found no place to rest. Several days later, he loosed a vulture, but first he attached an arrow to one of its tail feathers so that, if the bird landed, the arrow would hook on something and be lost. The vulture returned that evening without the arrow, so Tumbainot reasoned that it must have landed on carrion, and that the flood was receding. When the water ran away, the ark grounded on the steppe, and its occupants disembarked. Tumbainot saw four rainbows, one in each quarter of the sky, signifying that God's wrath was over.” This account has more in common with the story of Noah’s flood than simply a boat and some water. The figure Tumbainot was deemed a righteous man, as Noah was. The people of the day were sinful and not mindful of God, as in the days of Noah. God then resolved to destroy all of life, as in accord with the biblical account. Tumbainot and his family were spared on an ark, with animals of every kind, as Noah and his family were spared on an ark with animals of every kind. All other men and animals drown in both accounts. Tumbainot released a dove to check on the status of the flood, as Noah did. Finally, in both accounts, the rainbow is seen after the disaster, signifying the end of God’s wrath. And this is not the only story like this! It would be ludicrous to say all these stories have in common is a boat and a guy and a flood. My friend stated that the argument from mythical abundance doesn’t prove a myth. I agree; but the fact is, the myth of the flood is not only abundant, but we find accounts across the world that are immensely similar in detail. Let’s move on! AlphaT dedicated several paragraphs to refuting the point I made on the Little Grand Canyon. He made three arguments on this point. Number one, he says that the canyon carved into loose volcanic ash and sediment is not the same as the canyon carved into limestone. Secondly, he argues that the amount of energy it took to carve a relatively small canyon is massive, and the amount of energy it would have taken for the flood to carve the Grand Canyon would have had to have been even greater. Finally he claims that this energy would have raised the flood waters to unbelievable temperatures, effectively boiling Noah and the animals to death. These three arguments can be refuted quite easily, by a better piece of evidence that proves my point. In Eastern Washington State, there is a canyon that was eroded through solid basalt by Lake Missoula floods in 1-2 days. This canyon is 300 to 500 feet deep. This refutes his argument that it would take “an inconceivable amount of energy” to create all the canyons in the world in such a short time as I have proposed. Since that energy is not needed, there is no reason to believe the flood waters would have reached deadly temperatures. It also does away with the notion that it takes millions of years for canyons to form, even if it doesn’t prove that they were formed by the flood. I will return to this point with evidence that the canyon was formed by flood waters later. We move on to the point I made on radiometric dating. As my friend pointed out, this isn’t evidence for a global flood. It does however have bearing on the argument, for if the rock layers can be accurately dated to be millions of years old… well then they can’t be only 4,600 years old can they? However, this is somewhat beside the point. I will make note, that Salt Lake Crater in Oahu was determined to be 92 to 147 million years old, 140 to 680 million years old, 930 to 1,580 million years old, and 1,230 to 1,960 million years old, using several different radiometric dating methods. Point number four, the fossil record being out of order. My opponent says, “A global flood is no more likely given that the proposed fossilization map we would expect in evolutionary theory is false.” True, but this piece of evidence certainly carries weight. Supposing rock layers were laid down one after another over millions of years, (which, I take it, you believe they were,) we shouldn’t expect to find huge areas where (according to the evolutionary model of life) the deposited fossils are entirely out of order; upside down, in fact. I proposed a theory as to why we find the fossil layers in the order we do here, while my friend has not. I’m going to have to stop at transcontinental rock layers, (aww, just as we were getting to the meat of it,) as I’m out of time for now. I must apologize for stopping short of a full rebuttal here. Writing all this takes time, and I’m dealing with some other things in life right now that require my immediate attention, so I must ask for your patience as I finish the other half. I thought rather than make my opponent wait for the whole thing I’d present what I have done so he can begin working on that. I simply don’t have the time right now to finish. Hopefully the rest should be done within a few days. Again, sorry for the wait.
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