What Causes a Tornado?
by Shawn Joseph Gossman
Tornadoes! One of Mother Nature's most powerful weather anomalies, they hold
no discrimination for their victims and they can either barely effect you or
ruin everything. For years, scientists and storm chasers have been studying
these severe weather events and the exact cause and formation is still said to
not be 100% accurate. A tornado is chaotic and can do things that we in the
meteorology industry just do not understand. However, there are symptoms of
tornado potential that the public can look for to better the chances of safely
living through and tornado event in their area.
Have you ever seen those huge nasty looking clouds that are associated with
severe weather? Have you truly looked at them to see every detail? If you can
ever do it in a safe manner, look up at them and watch closely. If you notice
the base rotating, you could be looking at a rotating wall cloud! If that is the
case, this cloud (storm) can produce a tornado at any time and safety measure
should be taken very quickly at this point.
Remember the movie Twister? The parts of the movie where farm equipment, trees
and cows were flying all around! That is what we call; debris and debris can be
as dangerous as the tornado itself because it is blowing with force like some
sort of missile. So if you see a lot of debris from a distance, it is likely
that a tornado is on the ground and currently destroying property as we speak.
At this point, you should seek shelter as quick as you can.
Many storm chasers and spotters report that a tornado sounds like the roar of a
freight train. I have personally heard this sound and I think it's more like a
freight train derailing than anything else. The sound is coming from all the
wind that it is producing as well as items that it is destroying. At this point,
it would be a good idea to seek shelter as quickly as possible. The roar isn't
always a tornado though, sometime it is actually just wind but if it's making
that loud of a noise, chances are it can be a direct hazard to anyone in its
A power flash is better seen at night! It is when a tornado or extremely high
wind event takes out telephone wires and poles. You will see the electrical
surge of light flashing when the wire is snapped or the poles is taken down. At
this point, there is either a tornado on the ground damaging the telephone pole
system or there is extremely high wind. You should take shelter as quick as you
can to avoid being in the path of the storm.
I hope these tornado signs help to keep you safe!
Shawn Gossman is the founder of
http://www.SkywarnForum.com the official message
forum for the National Skywarn Program website. Shawn has been a Skywarn storm
spotter and storm chaser for over 15 years.