A tornado is a rotating funnel-shaped cloud that drops out of a storm cloud to the ground. Whirling winds range from 75 miles an hour to 300 miles an hour. Tornadoes can measure one mile in width and travel for 50 miles, often changing direction erratically.
Average Tornado Occurrence
Texas averages 125 tornadoes every year - more than any other state. Oklahoma comes in second with an average of 57 per year. Twisters can occur at any time of year but spring and summer are considered tornado season around here. While tornadoes can happen at any time of day, they’re most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. So when your afternoon talk show or evening sitcom is interrupted for a tornado watch or warning - pay attention and don’t go outside!
Watch & Warning
Probably the most important thing that you can do to protect yourself is to understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
- A tornado watch means that the formation of tornadoes is possible.
- A tornado warning means that one has been sighted or detected by radar; seek shelter now!
Power of a Tornado
Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable but even sturdy, brick buildings on concrete slabs are in danger. The power of tornadoes can be great enough to hurl objects as large as cars over long distances, resulting in extreme damage. Each year tornadoes are responsible for about 70 deaths and 1,500 injuries nationwide. To learn more about tornadoes, go to NOAA’s Tornado FAQ page.