When Dorothy got swept up in the Kansas tornado and fell into the land of Munchkins, she only had to deal with the Wicked Witch of the West. And happy endings after a tornado hits only happens in the movies. In real life, those who are unlucky enough to get caught up in a tornado not only lose their homes and possessions, they sometimes lose their lives. Sometimes called twisters or cyclones, tornadoes have occurred on every continent except Antarctica. In North America, these natural disasters can happen almost anywhere although in the United States, most tornados occur in the “Tornado Alley” region which is made up of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Because tornados can be so devastating, scientists and storm chasers are constantly studying them so they can predict when and where they will happen. Storm-chasing meteorologists use Doppler radar to detect when a tornado will occur. The radar helps scientists see the direction storms are moving and measure the intensity of the rain and the wind speed inside them. This technology along with the modern video camera has created a whole population of people who are fascinating with tornados and spend much of their time chasing them in order to witness and video a tornado’s danger and splendor. Thanks to them, those of us who don’t want to wind up like Dorothy can see the danger and magnificence of Mother Nature’s fury without having to get wet or risk dying.
Have You Ever Seen The Inside Of A Tornado?
WHAT IS A TORNADO?
A tornado is a column of air that violently rotates and touches both the earth’s surface and a cumulonimbus cloud which is a dense, towering vertical cloud made by water vapor that is carried by powerful upward air currents. Although tornadoes can be various shapes and sizes, they generally take the form of a funnel cloud with a narrow end that touches the earth and is often encircled by debris and dust. Meteorologists believe tornados are connected to supercells which are the most severe of all thunderstorms. A supercell is a thunderstorm that has a mesocyclone which is air that rises and rotates around a vertical axis. Supercells typically form in the U.S. when warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico meets cool, dry air over the Midwest and the plains. Because it is less dense, the warm air rises above the cooler air and as this happens, moisture in the air condenses and releases heat which fuels the upward movement of the air column.
The wind speeds of most tornadoes are less than 110 miles per hour and the width of a tornado is generally about 250 feet. These tornados usually travel only a few miles before dissolving. However, the wind speeds of the most extreme tornadoes can reach more than 300 miles per hours, be more than two miles wide and travel for dozens of miles. The severity of a tornado is measured using The Fujita scale that rates tornadoes according to how much damage it caused. On the scale, an F0 or F1 tornado is considered weak which means the harm is minimal; for instance, the damage is only to trees but not to buildings. F2 and F3 are considered strong tornadoes and an F4 or F5 tornado is considered to be violent. F5 tornados are the strongest category and they can rips buildings off their foundations and damage large skyscrapers.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO SHOOT TORNADO VIDEOS?
They are usually stormchasers who are people who pursue any severe weather condition in order to witness it. They do so for various reasons; it can be for adventure, out of curiosity, for scientific reasons or to cover the storm for the media. Seeing a live storm and being close to the danger of a tornado is also an adrenaline rush for many who most of the time also capture the experience on video. Tornado videos are filmed by everyone from amateurs to trained scientists and have become so popular, there is now a website completely devoted to tornado videos and stormchasing. There are even companies who specialize in tornado tours and will take people on tornado chasing vacation trips where they can safely see the power of a tornado up close guided by experienced storm chasers.
From Discovery Channel's Stormchasers show
WHAT ARE THE MOST EXTREME TORNADO VIDEOS?
Let’s first start with the deadliest tornado in world and U.S. recent history. Deadly tornadoes are those which which have caused 100 or more deaths. The most destructive tornado in recorded history happened in the Manikganj District of Bangladesh on April 26, 1989. Named the Daulatpur–Saturia tornado because it most affected the cities of Daulatpur and Saturia, the estimated death toll from this disaster is listed at 1,300 people which makes it the deadliest tornado in history. Bangladesh is the country that has experienced the most tornado devastation, having had at least 19 tornadoes in its history that have killed more than 100 people. This unfortunate fact is probably due to the poor economic status of the country, the dense population and the lack of an early-warning system.
The worst tornado to strike in the U.S. is the Great Tri-State Tornado, a F5 tornado that hit on March 18, 1925. This tornado lasted 7 hours and traveled from southeastern Missouri through southern Illinois and into southwestern Indiana and killed almost 750 people in addition to wiping out entire towns. Tornadoes can also spawn other tornadoes. The most extensive tornado outbreak in the U.S. happened from April 25 to 28, 2011 and spawned 358 tornadoes over the southeastern United States. The F5 Bridge Creek-Moore, Oklahoma tornado holds the record at 301mph for the highest wind speed ever measured in a tornado which is also the highest wind speed ever recorded on the planet. The amazing thing is despite a tornado’s ferociousness, there are still those who can’t resist filming a tornado as it is happening. In this day and age of accessible technology, it’s easy to capture an event like a tornado and even share the video as it is happening. Here’s a list of some of the most incredible tornado videos shot by those who clearly were quite sure they would live through the storm.
Not all tornado videographers are stormchasers. Here are some Italian guys who were trapped in an office during a tornado and captured this amazing footage of one of Milan's rare tornadoes.
WHAT DO I DO IF I’M IN A TORNADO?
Needless to say, grabbing your video camera and running out to film the tornado is not listed in the “How to Survive a Tornado” guide. Preparation is the name of the game in surviving a tornado. Since tornadoes can instantly strike without much notice, people who live in tornado-prone areas need to take precautions and preventative measures to prepare for a tornado. Experts advise having a pre-determined plan with your family as to where to go in case a tornado warning is issued. Having a basement, storm cellar or some kind of underground refuge stocked with supplies is the key to survival. The safest place is the most central room on the lowest floor of a building or house and experts also suggest staying on the side or corner of an underground room opposite the tornado's direction of approach. Taking shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture also helps to increase the chances of survival. If you find yourself outside in a car near a brewing tornado, scientists advise drivers to park their vehicles away from the road in order to allow emergency vehicles to be able get through and instantly find a sturdy shelter. However, don’t hide under a highway overpass since they are one of the worst places to be during tornadoes. The tight space underneath an overpass can attract high speed winds and flying debris .
Apparently an F3 tornado four miles away was not enough reason to stop a wedding in Kansas. The bride and groom just considered it to be wedding atmosphere.
You can either freak out like the woman in this video or be calm like her traveling companion:
As a huge F4 tornado heads toward their house, this family heads to their basement however, the man can’t help checking out the tornado. He also sounds chemically relaxed so perhaps that’s why he can’t keep away from watching the tornado while his female companion panics. The video goes black with about two minutes from the end due to the power outage caused by the tornado. However, the woman was able to receive a cell phone call and tell the caller that “her house is gone.”