One of the things on my bucket list is to go on a tornado chase with a team of professional storm chasers. Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve been fascinated with tornados. I think my interest started when I first watched The Wizard Of Oz. The sight of that twister behind Dorothy both horrified and fascinated me. In fact, I’m so intrigued by these wind storms that years ago I wrote a satirical novella called FUJITA’S ITCH. I vividly remember driving through Washington state one day and seeing hundreds of huge dust devils swirling over the plains on either side of me.
The majority of tornados occur in an amorphous region called Tornado Alley. Tornado Alley cuts through parts of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, but these storm can happen outside that area, too. In 2011 a terrible twister struck Springfield, Massachusetts and killed three people and injured over three hundred. In 1953 an F4 hit Worcester, MA.
Did you know that tornados can come in all shapes and sizes. Here is a chart below showing the different variety of twisters.
The peak of tornado season is May to early June and most tornadoes occur between 4 and 9pm. The strongest tornado is designated as an F5 and can have winds up to three hundred mph. There’s so much new information about tornado development that if you’re interested, I suggest you do some research on these fascinating storms and how they form.
The most powerful tornado on record is the El Reno tornado. It happened on May 31st, 2013 and at one point had a width of 2.6 miles on the ground. Wrote Climate Central’s Andrew Freedman: “The width of the tornado was equivalent to the entire north-south length of New York City’s Central Park.” Wind speeds topped out at 296 mph and it traveled over 16 miles on the ground. A picture of that tornado is below.
Tornados have been frequently portrayed in books and films. The movie, Twister, was a prime example of a popular movie. I feel terrible for all the lives and damages these storms create, but at the same time I can’t help but be awed by these magnificent beasts formed by nature. Someday, when I finally do go on my tornado chase, I’ll get back to you with my thoughts of seeing a twister up close and personal. Until then, I’ll continue to study and watch clips of them on You Tube.