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15 Interesting Facts about Tornadoes

15 Interesting Facts about Tornadoes

Photo: Shutterstock

Want to know more about Tornadoes? Here are 15 Interesting Tornado Facts that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

To make it even more interesting, you should challenge yourself and see how many of these facts about tornadoes that you already knew. Share your result in the comment section and compare them with your friends to see who knows the most about tornadoes.

What is a Tornado?

A Tornado is a column of air which is rotating rapidly and have contact with the ground. They are also referred to as whirlwinds or twisters and can occur in various shapes and sizes. 

Tornadoes can reach wind speeds of up to 318 mph

Most tornadoes have wind speeds of less than 100 miles per hour, but if it’s a powerful tornado that has been labeled as F5 by the Fujita Scale it can reach wind speeds of up to 318 miles per hour. 

The fastest tornado ever recorded had a wind speed of 280 miles per hour. 

Tornado facts

Photo: Benjamin Simeneta /

There are six tornado classifications

Each tornado’s strength and wind speed is categorized according to the Fujita scale, which ranges from F0 to F5. It rates the intensity and each category comes with expected damages to man-made structures as well as vegetation. 

Fujita Scale Wind Speed
F5: 261–318 mph
F4: 207–260 mph
F3: 158–206 mph
F2: 113–157 mph
F1: 73–112 mph
F0:  < 73 mph

Tornadoes can last from a few minutes to several hours

A tornado can disappear just as suddenly as it can appear, and some will only last for a few minutes, whereas others can last for several hours, wreaking havoc to all things in its way. 

In 1925, there was a Tri-State tornado that lasted for some 3.5 hours. In Canada, there was a massive tornado in the Manitoba province that lasted for almost 3 hours as well.

Tornado information

Photo: Shutterstock

Rotating thunderstorms are the best predictors of tornado activity

Meteorologists look at Doppler radar for signs of rotating thunderstorms, which can produce tornadoes.

There is still no 100% certain way to determine if a tornado will occur or not, but taking a closer look at rotating thunderstorms, and particularly look at the hook echo could give indications of a potential tornado. 

There’s a region known as the Tornado Alley

There are on average more than 1000 tornadoes across the United States every year, and one of the active areas is known as Tornado Alley, which goes from northwestern Texas to North Dakota. 

In May 2003, as many as 543 tornadoes were recorded in a single month.  

Tornado Alley

Photo: Joe Belanger/Shutterstock

Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 pm and 9 pm

Statistics show that most tornadoes occur between the hours of 3 pm to 9 pm, but technically, they can occur any time of the day. The reason for this is because it’s usually the warmest and most temperate time of the day. 

This is perhaps one of the facts about tornadoes that most people don’t know, but it’s quite logical when you take a closer look into it. 

They can occur when a warm front meets a cold front

Both thunderstorms and tornadoes need cold and warm air to survive and grow in intensity. So whenever cold and warm air meets, it can give rise to a storm. 

warm front meets a cold front

Photo: NickJulia/Shutterstock

One tornado moved machinery weighing 30,000 pounds

Tornadoes vary in size and strength, just like many other natural phenomenons, and the strongest winds ever recorded managed to move machinery that weighed more than 30,000 pounds.

That is the same weight as 153 Americans weighing an average of 195 pounds. Which also shows that most tornadoes could easily lift a person that is caught up in the storm. 

This is definitely one of the most interesting and terrifying facts about tornadoes. 

Tornadoes can occur any time of the year

Most tornadoes tend to occur from May through June in the northern states, and from March to May in the southern states, but they can occur any time of the year.

And while tornadoes mostly occur in the United States and Canada, they have been recorded on all continents except Antartica  

Tornado shelter

Photo: Shutterstock

5 x Tornado Facts for Kids

  • Tornadoes are also known as “Twisters”
  • Tornadoes are called waterspouts if they occur over water
  • They can last for several hours but some only last for less than ten minutes
  • Tornadoes are measured using the Fujita Scale
  • Every continent except Antarctica has experienced a tornado
Tornado facts for kids

Photo: Minerva Studio/Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions about Tornadoes

If you want to know more facts about Tornadoes, it might also be interesting to get answers to some of the most common questions. 

What was the worst tornado in history?

The deadliest tornado ever occurred was in Bangladesh in 1989, costing the lives of 1300 people. It was named Daultipur and Saturia, and caused additional injuries to an estimated 12000 people.

Can a tornado lift a person?

A person can be lifted and carried away by a tornado, but will likely be thrown out of the wind swirl within a few seconds. 

What state has never had a tornado?

All states in the U.S have had tornadoes. 

Can you outrun a tornado?

Smaller tornadoes could be outrunned, but not if you continue to run in its path. The fastest speed of a human being is recorded at 27.8mph, and that’s not the average speed.

An F1 tornado could reach speeds between 73–112 mph, which is more than 3 times as fast than the highest speed ever recorded by a human. However, if you are notified beforehand it’s possible to outrun the tornado by getting away from its path. 

What room is safest in a tornado?

The basement is the safest place to hide during a tornado and the second safest place is usually the bathroom. It’s important to stay away from windows. 

How many of these Tornado facts did you already know? Leave a comment below!

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