A tornado is a vortex of air. The word tornado comes from Spanish and means “to turn”. In a tornado, the air circulates very quickly around an axis that reaches from the ground to the clouds. The air vortex looks like a funnel-shaped tube. Tornadoes belong to hurricanes another word for a tornado is a tornado, but there are other names for it.
Tornadoes occur when there are thunderstorms. They are particularly common in the American Midwest. Here the conditions for severe thunderstorms in the wide plains between a high mountain range and a tropical sea are ideal for tornado formation. We also have tornadoes in Central Europe, but they don’t happen as often as in America.
How dangerous is a tornado?
A tornado can form in a matter of minutes during a thunderstorm. It is difficult to predict when a tornado will form and how strong it will be. The diameter of the vortex can also be very different: it can be 20 meters, but also one kilometer. Since the air in a tornado rotates very quickly, it can whirl a lot from the ground up into the air at the lower end. Tornadoes move across the landscape, making unpredictable twists and turns. Tornadoes can form just as suddenly as they can.
Small tornadoes only throw up leaves or dust and break branches from the trees. Window panes can also break. Narrow tornadoes sometimes only cause major damage in a narrow area along their path. It can happen that a house is severely damaged by a tornado and that the house next door is almost all right. Large tornadoes can cover roofs, uproot entire trees or even whirl cars through the air. They sometimes destroy entire cities on their way. Even the meteorologists, the researchers of the weather, have great respect for these life-threatening hurricanes.