What is a Tornado?
Tornadoes are violent storms that strike as a powerful rotating mixture of wind and thunderstorm clouds, extending from the clouds to the ground in a funnel shape. They are known to be the most powerful and destructive atmospheric generated phenomena (wind systems), and are very common in the USA, particularly from the middle belt extending to the east coast.
Every year, there is an average of 800 tornadoes that hit various parts of the USA. Even though many of them are very mild and could be seen as just strong winds, there has been a few tornadoes that have been very devastating and flattened many homes, schools and structures along its path.
Tornado incidents are distributed all year through, forming particularly in late spring (March), with the most incidents occurring in the summer (May and June), and reducing in numbers and strengths in the fall.
Tornadoes occur usually during the daytime, from mid-afternoon till about early evening. Their movement is usually from the southwest to the northeast. Sometimes they move in any direction, and in the general path of the thunderstorm. The spinning winds cover an area of about 300 — 400 yards, and can travel on a path for about 5 miles (some tornadoes travel for over 80 miles), at a speed of about 5 — 60mph.
Sometimes tornadoes develop in a very short time frame, leaving very little lead time for warning and preparation.