Tornado Facts
Tornado Facts

44 Extreme Tornado Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published October 28, 2019
  • The low air pressure of a twister can literally pull a person's eardrum outward.[4]
  • Tornadoes usually don't kill people. Collapsing buildings and flying debris are the main killers during a tornado.[4]
  • "Tornado Alley" is a broad area stretching through the middle of the United States that has more tornadoes than anywhere else in the world.[4]
  • Most tornadoes in the Southern Hemisphere rotate clockwise. Most tornadoes in the Northern Hemisphere rotate counterclockwise.[4]
  • Tornadoes are most likely to form between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.[4]
  • Tornadoes have occurred in all 50 states of the United States.[4]
  • Next to the United States, Argentina and Bangladesh record the most tornadoes annually.[4]
  • Weird Tornado Fact
    Tornadoes can be various colors
  • Tornadoes appear in all colors. They take on the color of the materials they pick up.[4]
  • The word "tornado" comes from tornare, which is Latin, meaning "to turn or to have torn."[4]
  • A typical twister lasts for less than 15 minutes. It travels along the ground for about six miles before dissipating.[4]
  • The 1999 Oklahoma City tornado generated winds of 318 mph (512 km/h), the strongest winds ever recorded on earth.[4]
  • Tornado winds may exceed 250 miles (400 km) per hour and can clear a pathway one mile (1.6 kilometers) wide and 50 miles (80 kilometers) long.[4]
  • During the 1974 Super Outbreak, two F5 tornadoes hit Tanner, Alabama, only 45 minutes apart.[4]
  • Around 1,200 tornadoes strike the United States every year, more than any other country.[4]
  • Tornadoes usually occur during the spring and early summer, often in the late afternoon and early evening.[4]
  • Tornadoes have touched down on every continent except for Antarctica.[8]
  • In addition to Tornado Alley, Dixie Alley is also known for deadly tornadoes across the southeast United States. States that lie in this dangerous zone include North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama.[8]
  • In the United States, May is the most active month for tornadoes.[8]
  • Tornado Alley is prone to tornadoes because, in this region, cold, dry air from Canada and the Rocky Mountains meets warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and hot, dry air from the Sonoran Desert. The mixture creates turbulence, which creates powerful storm systems.[6]
  • Tornadoes are formed by extremely large storms called "supercells."[4]
  • Tornado Super Cell
    Supercells are the birthplace of tornadoes

  • Dust devils are essentially mini tornadoes, but they are rarely dangerous. They are not attached to a cloud, and they are seldom over 3 feet (10 m) wide and a few hundred feet high.[6]
  • A landspout is a weak tornado. A gustnado is a whirlwind that is created by sudden, intense bursts of wind on the gust front preceding a thunderstorm.[6]
  • Tornado-like winds called waterspouts can form over water. Like dust devils, water spouts are not associated with thunderstorms; although they can become extremely large.[6]
  • An EF-3 tornado near Pampa, Texas, was so strong that it drove a corn stalk into a car's radiator. Some corn stalks that were lifted by the tornado became encased in ice and pelted the countryside with "cornhail."[1]
  • A June 1, 1943, tornado stripped the feathers off of 30 chickens. The chickens survived.[1]
  • A tornado caused thousands of frogs to rain from the sky in 2005 in a town in Serbia.[5]
  • A tornado in Hugo, Minnesota, overturned sofas and ripped off the roof of a house, but inside the house, the dishes of cat food and water were untouched—the cat food was still in the bowl.[1]
  • A tornado is usually transparent until it starts to pick up dust and debris.[6]
  • It's harder for meteorologists to predict tornadoes than it is for them to predict hurricanes.[6]
  • Matt Suter from Missouri holds the record for the longest-known distance that a human being has been carried by a tornado (and lived to tell the tale). On March 12, 2005, a tornado picked him up and deposited him just short of a quarter mile (398 m) away.[1]
  • Tornadoes are the strongest winds in the world.[4]
  • Tornado Destruction
    Tornadoes are the strongest winds on earth

  • Tornadoes are also called twisters, whirlwinds, or cyclones.[1]
  • Just 2% of all tornadoes are labeled as "violent tornadoes."[6]
  • The Fujita scale is the most common way of measuring a tornado's strength.[4]
  • Three out of four tornadoes on earth happen in the United States.[6]
  • During the War of 1812, the British captured the United States capitol, Washington, DC. However, their occupation lasted just 26 hours due to a tornado that formed in the city and headed straight for the British on Capitol Hill.[9]
  • The largest tornado outbreak in North America was a "Super Outbreak" in 1974. Between April 3rd and 4th, 148 tornados struck.[4]
  • The widest tornado on record is the El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado of May 31, 2013, with a width of 2.6 miles (4.2 km) at its peak.
  • The 1925 Tri-State Tornado holds the record for 1) the most time on the ground (3.5 hours), 2) the longest distance on the ground (219 miles; 352 km), and 3) the greatest forward speed (73 mph; 117 km/h).[4]
  • Deadliest Tornado
    The Bangladesh tornado carved a path one mile wide and 10 miles long, killing 1,300 people and injuring 12,000
  • The deadliest tornado in the world occured on April 26, 1989, in Bangladesh. It killed as many as 1,300 people.[6]
  • Tornado warnings have about a 70% false warning rate.[2]
  • The first recorded tornado in Europe was in Ireland in 1054.[7]
  • A tornado hit the town of Codell, Kansas, on the same date, three years in a row: May 20, 1916; May 20, 1917; May 20, 1918.[4]
  • Tornado injuries can be very gruesome. The wind is densely packed with small particles that will "sandblast" off clothing and skin. The wind is full of bacteria-rich soil and fungus, which will deeply penetrate any wounds and cause serious secondary infections. The wind can also enter mouth, ears, and eyes and cause severe internal damage and mutilation.[3]

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