Tornadoes, also known as cyclones and twisters, are a narrow and powerful column of air that rises from the ground and rotates constantly, engulfing everything that occurs within its reach. When it ascends from the ground, it sucks in all the debris and dust present there, in addition to the water droplets. This is what makes it visible, since the air is colorless. The average tornado has a wind speed of about 110 miles per hour and only a couple hundred feet across but there are reports of cyclone wind speeds over 250 mph and up to nearly two miles across. A smaller tornado may only be in contact with the ground for a few miles while larger ones can cause complete devastation for a range 30 miles or more.
Tornadoes are typically classified using either the Fujita (F) or Enhanced Fujita (EF) scales. These scales range from 0 to 5 where an F0 or EF0 is the most mild and F5 or EF5 is the most severe. In an Enhanced Fujita an EF0 has a wind speed between 65 – 85 mph, EF1 between 86 – 110 mph, EF2 between 111 – 135 mph, EF3 between 136 – 165 mph, EF4 between 166 – 200 mph, and EF5 is over 200 mph. In the United Kingdom they classify they tornadoes using the TORRO (T-Scale) and it ranges from T0 to T11.
Which Areas Are Affected By Tornadoes?
The occurrences of tornadoes have been observed in every part of the world except Antarctica. This natural catastrophe is fairly common in central United States, also known as Tornado Alley. According to the statistics of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United State experience almost 800 tornadoes every year. Other countries are affected also by this disaster. New Zealand is reported to have over 20 tornadoes annually. Besides that, Bangladesh and Argentina are also frequent victims of this natural calamity. They usually occur in spring and summer season and majority of the times between 4 and 9 pm, although that does not mean that they cannot occur outside of that range.
Types of Tornadoes
This natural calamity is further divided in to sub categories. These include:
- Dust tube tornado
- Multiple vortex tornado
Dust tube tornadoes escalate due to the growing motion of the most powerful cloud, when the thunderstorm is in the development process. This type of tornado usually occurs in areas that have dry weather and that experience storms frequently. Although they may continue on for more than 15 minutes and can cause considerable damage to the surrounding areas but they are comparatively weak as compared to other types of tornadoes.
In a multiple vortex tornado the main vortex is surrounded by several vortices that rotate inside as well outside the main one. The sub-vortices are usually not visible except in the case when it is in the initial phase of formation or when the dust and debris are strong enough to balance the main vortex. In some instances a smaller tornado will rotate around a larger one. This phenomenon is called a satellite tornado.
Waterspouts are the type of tornadoes that mature on the surface of water. They can also form on land and move gradually towards water. They are pretty much similar to the land tornadoes and have the same characteristics. When a waterspout tornado occurs, it can carry with it thunderstorms, strong wind, hazardous lightening and large hails.
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