Deaths from tornadoes have been reduced due to major weather tracking and storm chasing advancements. There have been weather alert signals for both tornado warnings and tornado watches to go out in advance. These give citizens advanced warning, so more and more people are surviving even worsening tornados. However, what really is a tornado and what types can there be?
What is a Tornado?
Tornadoes are air currents rotating and can incorporate dust, debris, and water. They are powerful and quick, and put fear in many people across the land. They mostly stay between 40-110 miles per hour and move along a few miles. Their size stays around 250 feet in width. However, some are super strong violent cells of turbulence and can get to over 300 miles per hour, over a mile wide, and go for several miles before dissipating. These violent storms are feared by most, and there are now several weather alerts to warn of their chance of occurrence.
There are four true tornado classifications. These are waterspouts, landspouts, satellite tornados, and multi-vortex tornados.
Waterspouts – These are tornadoes that are over water and will have water funnels. “Fair weather waterspouts” are those that are less dangerous and the most common of waterspouts. They are weaker and form near the bases of cumulus clouds. “Tornadic waterspouts” are those that are more dangerous and less common of the waterspouts. They are formed by severe thunderstorms and last longer. Landspouts – These are tornados are short lived and weaker. They have a small condensed funnel that may or may not make it all the way to the ground. These also can be known as dust tube tornados but aren’t dust devils. Satellite Tornado – These tornados are weak secondary tornadoes that can be around stronger wider tornados. They can circle the other tornado and that trait is how they get their name of satellite tornado. It is not a tornado that has different down tunnels from the main swirling vortex. Multi-vortex Tornado – These tornados are ones that can have more than one air columns coming down from the same common center air mass. These can do more damage as they have multiple paths that they can swirl around and suck up debris from. These are usually seen in the highest intensity tornados.
Tornados can be survived by knowing the basics. Stay indoors in the most interior room of the house, especially if it has no outside walls or windows. If there is time, putting on shoes and bike helmets can help. Staying near a weather alert radio to know when the storm is over or when its directly overhead, can also help in negotiating a safety strategy.
This article originally appeared Aug. 20, 2009 on Suite 101.