So, That Mountain Protects You From Tornadoes Eh?

So, That Mountain Protects You From Tornadoes Eh?

In some areas, there are widely held (and sincere) beliefs about landmarks protecting you from the horrors of a tornado. For some its a river (good luck with that), for others its being in a valley (yeah, not working either), and for many its a mountain, which…well….let’s go to the tape. (more…)

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More than 1,000 tornadoes hit the U.S. every year – in some parts of the country, they’re almost routine, like giant monster attacks in Japan. But every once in a while, a big one hits. That’s what happened on May 20, 2013, when the country’s biggest tornado in years landed in Moore, Oklahoma. It obliterated more than 1,000 homes, flung a 10-ton oil tank onto a school a half a mile away, and killed people as they hid in showers, in bathtubs, and in closets.

We sat down with one woman whose family narrowly survived that storm to find out what it’s like to be at ground zero when the weather tries to assassinate you.

5 Things You Learn Surviving An F5 Tornado

With its swirling column of wind, a tornado is one of nature’s most destructive storms. The most powerful tornadoes can rip houses from the ground, throw cars in the air, flip trains, and topple trees. Let’s explore how a tornado forms:

  1. Thunderstorms form when warm, wet air rises and mixes with cool, dry air above.
  2. Some storms get stronger because of wind shear, when winds at higher altitudes move faster and in a different direction than winds at lower altitudes. Wind shear makes the storm tilt and rotate.
  3. If a storm is strong enough, more warm air gets swept up into the storm cloud. At the same time, falling cool air produces a small cloud called a wall cloud.
  4. Inside the wall cloud, a funnel cloud forms and extends towards the ground. It causes air on the ground to rotate, and begin to rip up the earth.
  5. When the funnel cloud meets the churning air near the ground, it becomes a tornado. When the updrafts lose energy, the tornado does too, and it slowly disappears.

How do scientists predict tornados? Find out on this tornado website, and see tornados in action in the exhibition, Nature’s Fury, open through August 9!