Tornado in a bottle
Mankind fear what they can’t control, as they fear natural disaster. Tornado is one of these natural causes. And that fear is rightfully so because before the time of science there is no way to explain what tornado is, except a whirling wind of death strong enough to rip a whole building apart. Back then when people couldn’t explain how a tornado occur they thought it was a cause of god and his wrath. But now since scientist have emerge and the time of technology is a dawn, human can fully understand how a tornado form, what area experience tornado the most, and how to survive a tornado.
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Firstly, tornadoes can happen suddenly at anytime, anywhere, if the conditions are met. A tornado forms when large masses of cold, dry air and warm, moist air collide. It then eventually forms into a high-velocity funnel of wind. The funnel is an ordinary and effective shape to hold extra atmospheric wind while allowing that energy to reach its maximum velocity. The development begins as a severe thunderstorm. The cold, dry air squeezes the humidity out of the warm, moist air. The dry air contains a higher static electrical charge that, when brought in connection with the humidity of the southern wind, requires discharging thus all of this leads to profuse lightening, high winds and lots of rain. While the strong wind blows against the falling rain, it can thrust raindrops back upward, so far above where they started, where the temperatures can drop to negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This causes the raindrop to freeze and become the start of a hailstone. As it begins to drop once more from the sky, the frozen raindrop gathers another layer of moisture. The high winds of the storm shove it back up again, freezing the new layer of water to ice and the hailstone becomes larger and heavier. The stronger the winds, the more recurrent this happens until the hailstone becomes too heavy for the wind to force it back up again, and it falls to the ground. Which means the stronger the storm’s wind, the bigger the hailstone. Therefore, there is diversity of size in hail, because if a fresh hailstone of any magnitude was sliced in half, there would be visible layers that formed each time the stone collected extra moisture and was forced up into the sub-zero upper atmosphere to freeze again (Clark). With all the atmospheric energy drawn into the funnel, the tornado is very powerful, self-reliant wind machine that hits abruptly and destroys everything in its path. Of course, a tornado that hasn’t touch down yet might be extremely problematic to see, as the dark appearance of a tornado is almost entirely from the remains it has picked up and is now carrying. What started as a very high-speed funnel air is now a very high-speed funnel of air, dirt, debris of everything, and becomes exponentially more dangerous with all that hard material in it spinning like a saw blade at up to 200 miles per hour. This is the reason why a tornado is so dangerous, it forms fast, moves quick, and is quite hard to see until it already had collected dust in it. Although a person might not see a tornado before it’s too late; there are multiple ways to identify a tornado beforehand. One of the ways is to look at inflow bands which are ragged bands of low cumulus clouds extending from the main storm tower usually to the southeast or south. The existence of inflow bands suggests that the storm is gathering low-level air from several miles away. If the inflow bands have a spiraling nature to them, it suggests the presence of rotation. A second way is the beaver’s tail which is a smooth, flat cloud band ranging from the eastern edge of the rain-free base to the east or northeast. It usually skits around the southern edge of the precipitation area, which also suggests the presence of rotation. The third way is a wall cloud that is an remote cloud lowering attached to the rain-free base of the thunderstorm. The wall cloud is usually to the back of the visible precipitation area. A wall cloud that may produce a tornado usually occurs for 10-20 minutes before a tornado appears. A fourth way is the rear flank downdraft that is a downhill rush of air on the backside of the storm that descends along with the tornado. The rear flank downdraft looks like a “clear slot” or “bright slot” just to the rear of the wall cloud. It can also look like hangings of rain wrapping around the cloud base movement. The rear flank downdraft causes breezy surface winds that occasionally have embedded downbursts. The last way is a condensation funnel that is made up of water droplets and out spreads downward from the base of the thunderstorm. If it is in contact with the ground it is a tornado; otherwise it is a funnel cloud. Soil and rubble beneath the condensation funnel confirm a tornado’s presence. Tornado can come in all sort of sizes and the strength vary from each one so there is a way to determine the strength of a tornado. The most common and practical way to determine the strength of a tornado is to look at the damage it caused, then from the damage the wind speed can be estimated. An official scale “Enhanced Fujita Scale” was implemented by the National Weather Service in 2007 to rate tornadoes in a more consistent and accurate manner. The EF-Scale considers more variables than the original Fujita Scale (F-Scale) when assigning a wind speed rating to a tornado, incorporating 28 damage indicators such as building type, structures and trees. For each damage indicator, there are 8 degrees of damage ranging from the beginning of visible damage to complete destruction of the damage indicator. Tornado can form fast but there are also ways to tell beforehand if one should occur, knowing how strong a tornado is would be beneficial.
Knowing which areas tend to have more tornado occurrences than other is helpful to know the dangers of one’s areas. And each year an estimate of 1,000 tornadoes touch down in the United States alone. Florida for example has numerous tornadoes simply due to the high frequency of almost daily thunderstorms. The south-central United States has a high chance of tornadoes each year, so much so that it has a nickname “Tornado Alley”. Tornadoes in this region typically happen in late spring and occasionally the early fall. The Gulf Coast area also has a separate tornado maximum nicknamed “Dixie Alley” with a relatively high frequency of tornadoes occurring in the late fall. Although there is a lot of tornadoes that does occur in the United States most tornadoes according to National Centers 77% of tornadoes that occur are considered weak and only a few (0.1% of all tornadoes) achieve winds over 200 mph and nearly complete destruction. However, given that on average over 1,000 tornadoes hit the United States each year, that means that 20 can be expected to be violent and possibly one might be extremely dangerous. Although there is no set season for Tornado the peak for tornado tend to occur during May into early June. And most tornado tend to occur between 4-9 p.m. But note that tornado can still happen at any time of day or night. United States isn’t the only one to experience frequent tornado, other areas include northern Europe, western Asia, Bangladesh, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, South Africa, and Argentina. In fact, the United Kingdom has more tornadoes, relative to its land area, than any other country. However, most United Kingdom tornadoes are relatively weak. Although most of the tornadoes that does form in the United States are relatively weak, people should still watch out constantly and even if they aren’t in the area where tornado usually do occur.
The most important thing to surviving a tornado is to have a plan so if a tornado has occurred close to the location a person is at they know what to do, but before getting to that point make sure to pay close attention to weather reports. The weather could report:
A Tornado Watch which means thunderstorms approaching in your area possesses conditions that could spawn a tornado. A Tornado Warning is extremely serious. A tornado was detected inside the storm by Doppler radar and could touch down or a tornado has been spotted. Once on the ground a tornado may travel in any direction and, depending on its strength, can remain earthbound for seconds, minutes and even hours. At the point of ground of contact, tornados can range from just a few yards wide to a mile or more in diameter. (Clark)
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Even if the tornado misses a person or structure such as a house, it can cause death or severe damage because of the large amount of debris it carries. Heavier objects tend to be released from the bottom of the tornado and go flying at extremely high speed until they collide with something else or with the ground. Even small objects traveling at these high speeds can be deadly. There has even been reports of a stalk of broom straw impaling a tree trunk. Firstly, the keys to surviving a tornado are preparedness and alertness. The best way to prepare for a tornado is to plan and practice a personal tornado drill (Briggs). As said by Grizzle, the emergency management director for the City of Norman “They shouldn’t wait until the last minute to decide where they will go if a storm hit, they should have a plan of action” (Jackson). A solid plan involves having a safety place to go like the basement or if there isn’t one any central room or hallway, away from windows, would be best. If you are in a basement you should know where the very heavy objects are and do not go under them as they may fall through a weakened floor. It is recommended that you take shelter under something sturdy that can help protect you from flying debris (Lester). A good position is to crouch as low as possible to the floor, face down, and cover your head with your hands, it is also ideal to cover your head with anything soft like a pillow, blanket, or mattress. It used to be said that the southwest corner is the safest, but this is merely a myth. In reality, the more central the better. Often, houses are shifted off their foundation, exposing the corners to flying debris or collapse. Another thing to note is to make sure to have a disaster kit prepared and place it in your designated shelter area (Danenhower). Some items in this kit should include: a flashlight and battery-powered radio, with spare batteries; a first-aid kit, bottled drinking water, canned or other non-perishable food items along with a hand-operated can opener, baby food or formula, if needed; sturdy work shoes and gloves; small assortment of hand tools; and a fire extinguisher. Another thing to note is that if one is in a car and there is a tornado they should not try to outrun a tornado, because depending on the storm’s strength, it can overtake the you very quickly and toss your car around like a toy. So, if you were to be caught while in your car, the best option would be to exit the vehicle and lay down in the nearest, lowest area like a ditch, creek or ravine (Clark). If a person is in a automobile, mobile home or camper trailer they should seek more suitable shelter because none of these are substantial enough to withstand a tornado (Briggs). In a large buildings interior rooms and halls are the best locations, central stairwells are also good, but elevators should be avoided as the building may lose power (Need-to-know). One should take the essential step to making sure they’re as safe as possible when caught in a tornado’s wrath as every choice count.
Tornado as said before can form anywhere, anytime, if the conditions are met. All it takes is a thunderstorm and it could lead to a tornado forming but before that one can spot the signs of a tornado forming in the clouds. Knowing the areas where tornado occurs the most is also beneficial to one’s preparedness, but nothing helps more than practicing a plan and listening to weather reports to stay up to date. Tornado are no joke and if one is in such danger it is important to know what to do at that time because every decision count when it’s life and death.
- Briggs, Corey. “Tips Given to Survive Tornadoes.” Daily Herald, 18 April 1999, pp. 3. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/docview/309840126?accountid=38939. Accessed 2 May 2019.
- Clark, Byron. “AREA MOST LIKELY TO FEEL THUNDERSTORMS, TORNADOS.” Savannah Morning News, Jun 07, 2015. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/docview/1690547330?accountid=38939. Accessed 2 May 2019
- Danenhower, Heather. “Be Prepared this Tornado Season.” Ocala Star – Banner, Apr 21, 2005. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/docview/390531232?accountid=38939. Accessed 2 May 2019
- Jackson, Jennifer. “Look Out! Storm Season’s upon Us.” McClatchy – Tribune Business News, Mar 21, 2007, pp. 1. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/docview/459443283?accountid=38939. Accessed 2 May 2019
- Lester, Kerry. “Suburbs Saw 194 Tornadoes in 65-Year Stretch.” Daily Herald, Jun 05, 2016. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/docview/1793812577?accountid=38939. Accessed 2 May 2019
- “Need-to-Know Info to Stay Safe in a Tornado.” Winnipeg Free Press, Jun 30, 2007. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/docview/752194909?accountid=38939. Accessed 2 May 2019
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