SCIENCE IN ACTION: TORNADOES
A tornado is a column of air that rapidly rotates from the surface of the earth to the clouds. It is in contact with both the surface of the earth and the cumulonimbus clouds, or a cumulus cloud (though in rare cases). In most cases, tornadoes have a wind speed of 250 miles per hour or less, and cover about 660 feet. They travel several kilometers at a speed that is between 16-32 kilometers per hour before disappearing. Tornadoes are formed in thunderstorms and are often accompanied by hail (the size of a baseball). The most destructive tornadoes are called the supercells spawn which are giant and most persistent of all tornadoes. The US being the hotspot for tornadoes receives an average of 1000 tornadoes a year which leaves an average of 80 deaths and at least 1.500 injuries annually.
A tornado can occur at any time of the day but they mostly occur during late afternoons. During this time, the ground, and the atmosphere has been hearted up enough by the sun to produce thunderstorms. When this warm air collides with cold dry air, thunderstorms are formed and the warm air rises through the cold air causing an updraft. These updrafts begins to rotate when the winds sharply differ in direction or speed. A tornado destroys everything on the path that it travels, including buildings, cars, vegetation, animals and human beings. A tornado can last for at least a few seconds and can go as long as a few hours.
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