Tornadoes in Hurricanes

Hurricanes that create tornadoes are not an uncommon thing, however these tornadoes are not your typical warm air clashing into cold air twisters. Hurricane based tornadoes tend to be weaker than their traditional cousins. Tornadoes form in land falling hurricanes  because of the severe wind sheer that hurricanes can create. Winds at the surface tend to be slower than those at the higher levels, which is not uncommon of a typical tornado. The sheering winds create the same twisting motion and torrential rains bring the funnel to the ground, creating the tornado. Each hurricane is unique in relation to how many tornadoes it will produce. For example, Hurricane Ivan directly hit the mid-Atlantic and produced 120 tornadoes. Although many tornadoes in hurricanes tend to be weak EF0 or EF1 storms, capable of winds between 60-119 mph, an EF4 hurricane-related tornado killed 22 people in Louisiana in 1964 courtesy of Hurricane Hilda

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The United States: Tornado Alley of the World

Does it ever seem like when a destructive tornado hits, it most commonly occurs in the United States? It may be true that all countries and continents on Earth are capable of producing a tornado, but why is the United States in such a hot zone? What you should know first is that the United States averages approximately 1,000 tornadoes per year while the rest of the world averages around 250, most of which occur in Canada. Therefore, the United States is responsible for 75-80 percent of the world’s tornadoes. But why? Well, there’s no other place on earth quite like the United States. In order to form a tornado you need cold and warm air to crash at the surface or extremely high winds (like that of a hurricane, more on that later). The Gulf of Mexico provides the warm air to move across the Central Plains, while cold air from Canada and the Rocky Mountains moves over that same area, an area dubbed Tornado Alley. The clash happens when something triggers the air to clash, like a cold front. That clashing air provides the necessary ingredients to spawn tornadoes. Very few areas of the world have that area of cold and warm air clashing. The Central Plains are also unique in that the land is extremely flat and nothing can interfere with those cold and warm air masses colliding.

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It’s All Over: What’s Next?

After a strong tornado impacts a community, extensive damage could stretch for miles. When a tornado destroys a community it is important to take different steps to prevent any further damage. Glass, splintered wood, and nails could be just a few of the things that you could encounter in picking up. Homes that are destroyed are at a greater risk of causing more damage to surrounding homes. If you hear hissing noises, or smell the presence of gas from one of these homes, it is important to notify the fire department immediately. Stay away from damaged, unsafe buildings. These structures have been compromised by the tornado and may no longer be safe. The American Red Cross is one of the leading organizations that help families relocate after tornadoes occur and have always lead the way in rescue efforts in wake of these devastating storms.

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A Tornado is on the Ground, What Should you do?

When a tornado touches down it’s the quick and intelligent reactions that can save you from serious injury or escaping without a scratch. If you have a basement or storm cellar to ride the storm out in, those are the most likely places you’ll escape serious injury. If you’re less fortunate and do not have a basement or cellar to ride out the storm, seek the most interior room in your house, where windows and other flying debris would have a hard time reaching you. Also, look for a sturdy place to pin your body to. Most scientists believe that pinning your body against a door frame in the most interior room in your house (most commonly a bathroom) or seeking shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture, are the safest places to be in a tornado for those who don’t have a basement.

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The Birth of a Tornado

Tornadoes are still one of meteorology’s most mysterious phenomenon. Scientists are still unsure what conditions are necessary in order to create tornadoes, but some theories share similarities. Tornadoes need warm, moist air and cold, dry air in order to form super-cells.  These super-cell thunderstorms can reach nearly 50,000 feet in height. A tornado forms when a a column of air begins spinning rapidly in a horizontal fashion. A powerful gust of wind or updraft, then takes that surface column of air and begins to turn it in a vertical position. The intense column of wind is then surrounded by clouds from the super-cell and lowers to the ground due to the influence of rain and hail. A tornado is only created when that column of air finally hits the ground and spawns one of natures most intense, destructive storms.

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