Tornadoes - Weather Science
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Tornadoes

When there's wind coming from more than one direction at the same time, sometimes the air begins to spin around in one place. This is especially likely when a hot, wet wind coming from the south hits a cold, dry wind coming from the north. Both winds have momentum, and the energy of that momentum has to go somewhere. Sometimes the energy turns into a thunderstorm, and sometimes the energy goes into making air swirl around in circles because it hasn't got anywhere else to go. As heavy rain falls from the clouds to the ground, it can drag this swirling air spiralling down to the ground.

If a tall column of spinning air reaches all the way from the ground to the clouds, we call that a tornado. Sometimes the tornado is invisible; sometimes it picks up a cloud or a bunch of dust so you can see it. Other tornadoes called waterspouts form on the ocean and pick up water.

Tornado debris
A tornado wrecked a town in northern France

Tornadoes can happen anywhere, but most tornadoes happen in places where there's a lot of open space for winds to blow in, especially in the Great Plains of the United States. The chances of a tornado hitting your house are about one in ten million, and you're more than five hundred times as likely to be killed in a car crash as by a tornado. However, if you do see a tornado or hear that one is coming, you should get inside and go in the basement or stay as low as possible. If you can't get inside, lie down in the lowest place you can find, like in a ditch.

Whatever you do, don't go out to see the tornado. Tornadoes can be very dangerous. Sometimes tornadoes pick up people and even cars right off the ground, and then drop them again when the tornado calms down.

Learn by Doing - Tornadoes
Thunderstorms
More about Weather

Bibliography and further reading about tornadoes:

Physics
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 19 August, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT