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Still Waters

Tornadoes: The science behind the destruction

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Still Waters

How tornadoes form and how they die is not fully understood, yet scientists probing those mysteries—and aiming to improve warning systems—have pinpointed key risk factors.

A tornado, or twister, is a violently rotating column of air that extends between the Earth's surface and a cloud, usually a cumulonimbus cloud. Most tornadoes last for less than ten minutes, says Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in Norman, Oklahoma.

Large tornadoes usually last longer—around 30 minutes, Brooks adds. The most powerful twisters have wind speeds of more than 300 miles (483 kilometers) per hour, which can rip buildings off their foundations. They can be more than two miles (3.2 kilometers) wide, and can spin across the ground for dozens of miles.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/04/140430-tornadoes-meteorology-atmospheric-science-disasters/

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