There is no doubt that tornadoes are powerful and often destructive forces of nature. But what do you really know about them? We’ve rounded up our top facts about tornadoes to help you better understand them. We’ll cover how they form, how quickly they move, and some relevant statistics such as how wide they can get. Ready to learn some facts about tornadoes?
#1 Tornadoes Typically Touch Down for 5 Minutes.
Tornadoes can spend just a few minutes to several hours on the ground. However, the average tornado touches down for about 5 minutes.
#2 Tornadoes Can Sometimes Look Transparent.
Tornadoes can look nearly transparent until they pick up dust and debris, or until a cloud forms inside the funnel.
#3 Tornadoes Can Move as Fast as a Car.
Tornadoes have an average forward speed of about 30 mph. However, the speed of a tornado can vary significantly — they can be almost stationary or travel at speeds of up to 70 mph!
#4 Most Tornadoes Form from Severe Thunderstorms.
Most tornadoes form from severe thunderstorms. Hurricanes can also lead to the formation of tornadoes.
#5 The Most Destructive Tornadoes Form From Supercells.
The most destructive tornadoes of all usually form from supercells, which are rotating thunderstorms with a well-defined radar circulation. Supercells can also produce hail, severe winds, frequent lightning, and flash floods.
#6 The Widest Tornado Covered Multiple Miles.
The widest tornado on record occurred in Oklahoma. The EF5-rated El Reno, Oklahoma tornado occurred on May 31, 2013, and reached a width of approximately 2.6 miles at its peak.
#7 Tornado Winds Can Exceed 300 Mph.
Tornado winds can exceed 300 mph when at their strongest.
#8 Most Tornadoes Occur in the United States.
The United States experiences the most tornadoes of anywhere in the world. In fact, over 1,000 tornadoes are reported in the United States each year. The majority of these take place in Tornado Alley, an area of frequent tornado activity that includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.
Want more storm-related science facts? Check out these thrilling facts about thunderstorms!