What is the average annual number of deaths in the United States caused by tornadoes?

About 60 people die each year in the United States because of tornadoes. Most deaths are caused by flying debris.

Did a tornado almost change music history?

If you noticed the listings of cities in the "Deadliest U.S. Tornadoes" table, you may have caught the fact that the fourth listing was Tupelo, Mis sissippi, the home town of Elvis Presley (1935-1977). Elvis was just an infant at the time, and he fortunately survived the funnel cloud that killed over 200 people on April 5, 1936.

What was the deadliest tornado ever in the world?

On April 26, 1989, a tornado landed about 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Dhaka, Bangladesh. When it was over, 1,300 people were dead, 15,000 were hurt, and about 100,000 lost their homes.

What months are the most likely times for tornadoes?

The height of the tornado season in the United States is March through August, though tornadoes do form in the South during the off season. More tornadoes occur in May than any other month, but more deaths have been logged during the month of April. One of the worst outbreaks of tornadoes ever recorded ran from April 3 through 4 in 1974. Thirteen states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) saw 148 tornadoes touch down, killing 315 people and injuring almost 5,500. The tornadoes cut through 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) of terrain.

Besides the 1974 tornado outbreak, what are some other serious outbreaks that have hit the United States?

On April 11, 1965, Palm Sunday, the American Midwest was struck by 37 tornadoes that killed 256 people and injured more than 5,000. An outbreak of 22 tornadoes on May 28, 1984, killed 57 in the Carolinas, left 1,248 injured, and caused about $200 million in damages. (The next year, on May 31, 75 people died after 41 tornadoes raged across Ontario, Canada, causing $450 million in damages). There were two terrible outbreaks in the early 1990s. From April 26 to 27, 1991, 54 tornadoes made landing in Texas and Iowa. Twenty-one people were killed and 208 injured. The next year, on November 21, 94 tornadoes destroyed lives and property through 13 states, stretching from the Midwest to the East Coast. This outbreak left 26 people dead and 641 injured.

Are there certain times of the day when tornadoes are more likely to happen?

Tornadoes can occur at any hour of the day, but 40 percent of them strike between 2:00 and 6:00 P.M. The danger of a nighttime tornado is that people are often asleep and unprepared for when the warnings are sounded.

A wall cloud descends over Oklahoma in 1984. (NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory)

A wall cloud descends over Oklahoma in 1984. (NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory)

What is a mesocyclone?

A mesocyclone is the vortex of air—usually between 1 to 6 miles (2 to 10 kilometers) in diameter—often found within a supercell or other large thunderstorm with cumulonimbus clouds. Wind shear resulting in abrupt changes in wind direction or speed in the storm causes air to circulate in a rolling fashion parallel to the ground; an updraft can then orient the swirling air vertically, thus forming a vortex perpendicular to the ground.

What is a wall cloud?

Wall clouds can be warnings that a tornado is about to form in a bank of cumulonimbus clouds. As a mesocyclone expands and gains strength below the cumulonimbus clouds, it begins rotating as warm, humid air moves upward and condenses. Convergence causes the gathering wall cloud to rotate cyclonically, though slowly compared to the tornadoes it could form. Storm chasers who observe such wall clouds know that they can form full-fledged tornadoes within an hour's time.

 
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