Interesting facts about tornadoes in the US

By Stef Zisovska
Publish Date:
F5 tornado

Tornadoes are the most violent, unpredictable and destructive storms in nature. This powerful weather system is a rotating air column, often accompanied by severe thunderstorms when it makes contact with land or water it can cause horrible damage.

Tornadoes form when different temperatures and humidity meet, especially when warm winds from the Gulf of Mexico meet the cold Canadian winds that sweep down the country.


Oklahoma tornado Photo Credit

We’re lucky here at Outdoor Revival HQ because we don’t have any extream weather or other natural phenomenon that we need to watch out for.  Life is peaceful, but for many, it’s not.


Tornadoes occur when a thunderstorm causes water vapor in the air to condense into a funnel cloud. When warm moist air is pushed down by cold and dry air, a tornado starts waking up. The heated air layers are pushed up by the heat of the ground, but they can’t go through the cold air barrier, so they start to rotate.


rotating cloud Photo Credit

Small tornadoes, unlike the big ones, are not visible to our eyes. When windstorm lifts up the dirt from the ground and rolls it up in the funnel, that’s when big tornadoes become noticeable. Under perfect conditions, the spinning air reaches speeds up to 250 mph. Technically these vicious storms are created when the funnel comes into contact with the ground.

Tornadoes are common in many parts of the world, but the US is the most famous tornado host. The United States is hit by about 1000 tornadoes each year, most of them in Tornado Alley which runs from Texas to North Dakota.

In 2017 so far there have been 350 tornadoes registered in the United States with about 30 deaths attributed to them. The states that get most hit by tornadoes are Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia. The month when most twisters occur is May. The record of most tornadoes in one month is 543 in May 2003.


Tornado Alley Photo Credit


The damage caused by tornadoes can be terrifying depending on the strength of the storm which is measured by Fujita scale. The scale counts from F0 and the most violent tornadoes are F5. These scary twisters can lift up a house, a car, mobile homes, and throw them 150 yards away, with lighter objects they’ve been known to travel over 60 miles from where the tornado picked them up. The deadliest tornadoes outbreaks that have occurred in the US happened in 1925 and 1974.


Oklahoma Photo Credit

On March 18, 1925, there was a gigantic F5 that traveled through three states, Missouri, Ilinois and Indiana with a path length of 219 miles. This three-state tornado took 695 lives in three and a half hours. The Super Outbreak of 148 tornadoes in 1974 lasted for 18 hours and affected 13 states. The state that has suffered the most tornado attacks in the history is Oklahoma.

The highest tornado ever was registered was in 1987, in Wyoming with an elevation between 8500 and 10000 feet above sea level. In Sequoia National Park in California in 2004, a hiker witnessed a tornado while he was at 12 000 feet altitude. This one is also a candidate for the highest twister in the world.


Kansas Photo Credit

To be prepared for the storm listen to the weather forecast and tornado warnings. Basements and storm shelters are the safest hiding places, but in case you don’t have any of these get into the closet, a wardrobe or any indoor place with no windows.


A funnel in Colorado Photo Credit

These magnificent giants are a great attraction for storm chasers from all over the country. Chasing tornadoes is the most thrilling thing ever, but it can be very dangerous so if you’re tempted to try it make sure you prepare well.


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