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What is a Tornado

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with the ground. Tornadoes take different forms, some are large and ominous, while others are relatively small and may be difficult to see. Waterspouts are weak tornadoes that occur over water.

In some areas, especially along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and in the High Plains, tornadoes from during the early stage of rapidly developing thunderstorms and often appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up by the winds.

Tornadoes are capable of incredible destruction!
What is a Tornado?
Tornado near Heston, Kansas

Hesston, Kansas tornado (Dave Williams, Wichita Eagle)

Tornado near Prospect Valley, Colorado

Tornado near Prospect Valley, Colorado (Greg Stumpf)

Tornado near Boise City, Oklahoma

Weak tornado near Boise City, Oklahoma (Greg Stumpf)


Waterspout taken in the Florida Keys, September 10, 1969 (Dr. Joseph Golden, NOAA)

Tornado Damage Greenwich Heights Subdivision northeast of McConnell AFB illustrating the damage from the violent Wichita/Andover tornado of April 26, 1991
 (John Sokich, NWS)

'Tornadoes: Nature's Most Violent Storms' was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Weather Service (NWS) in cooperation with the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is designed to assist in heightening public awareness and understanding the dangers associated with tornadoes. The package provides an introduction to tornadoes and their impact, discusses tornado development and occurrence, and describes safety information for homes, schools, places of work, and outdoors. In addition, basic environmental clues are presented.

Individual use of the pictures within these presentation must have prior approval from the credited source.


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