What is a Tornado?
A tornado is a storm of swirling winds that is very destructive. It can be produced from a super cell thunderstorm. A super cell is a very large thunderstorm. Tornadoes, like other storms, can only be produced in the perfect conditions. It requires an unstable atmosphere. A tornado needs moist, warm air near the ground with higher up colder air. The different air must collide and the warm air has to rise to the top.
The way that tornadoes form is kind of a mystery to scientists, but they have some ideas. The tornado is usually borne from a supercell storm. First, the land heats up from the sun. Then, the warm air tries to rise as the cold air pushes down. Sometimes, after that, a wind shear sets them off. That is similar to what I have just described.
Then, the faster air rolls over the slower air. As it rolls, it gets bigger and faster. It is invisible right now, and it is horizontal. As it gets bigger and faster, it starts to turn up vertically. It then gains momentum and becomes a vortex with enough energy to fuel itself. Now it is fully grown and it touches down.
There is a wind speed scale that is specific to tornadoes. It is the Fujita scale. It tells the different destructiveness of a tornado, from the worst, F5, to the least damage, F0. Here they are:
F0: 40-72 mph
F1: 73-112 mph
Stoughton, WI Tornado- Aug. 18, 2005
The Stoughton tornado of August 18, 2005 was very devastating, even though there was only one casualty. The one man was Harold Orlofske, 54, of Pleasant Springs. "In the week that followed thousands of volunteers, dozens of businesses, fifty-six area fire departments, paramedic, street and utility crews from around the state, Stoughton police, Dane County Sheriff's deputies, State Police, DNR crews from as far as Peshtigo, local churches, church groups from all over the country, Red Cross teams from Minnesota, the Salvation Army and anyone else who could help did help to save lives, provide necessities, clean up and restore faith in the Stoughton area." says Stoughton Tornado.org. This tornado had winds up to 200 mph and was rated F3. It blew through a 10 mi. long, 1/2 mi. wide path through subdivisions just north of Stoughton. Community, businesses and corporations raised almost $2 million in tornado relief, also from Stoughton Tornado.org. Damage estimates range from $11 million to $42 million.
Gainesville, GA Tornado- Apr. 6, 1936
The Gainesville tornado of 1936 was not pretty. With over 200 deaths and over 1,000 injured, it was the 5th deadliest tornado in US history. It was an F4 tornado, and to add, it was a double. Two tornadoes merged on Grove St. It happened at about 8:30 in the morning. This tornado was part of the same storm system that touched down in Tupelo, MS. There were 223 deaths there and it was the 4th deadliest tornado in US history. The worst destruction happened at Cooper Clothing factory, where the entire building was destroyed and about 70 people were killed. This was the largest single building tornado death toll in US history. As many as 700 structures were damaged or destroyed. The cost in damage was about $13 million in 1936. In today's money, it would be worth close to $200 million.
Gainesville Tornado Video
There are at least four warning systems to alert you that a tornado is coming, including news warnings, weather radios, smartphone alerts, and tornado sirens. Also, people in the 21st century are generally educated on how destructive tornadoes can be and how to react and prepare for them.
Once people see or hear these warnings, they will usually go into their basement or into a room that is away from any windows. The basement is safe because if the house blows down, then the basement will be still intact (hopefully). Unfortunately, that was not the case in Stoughton in 2005. The one man who died was in his basement when his house collapsed and his chimney fell on top of him. Nevertheless, but for the early warning systems the Stoughton tornado could easily have been as deadly as the 1936 Gainesville, Georgia tornado. In contrast, had early warning systems existed, the Gainesville tornado would have been less deadly.