This picture was taken at 10 PM off Florida's Lake Okechobee on June 15, 1991 by a amateur photographer named Mr. Fred Smith. The lighting was the perfect flashbulb.


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Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert at The Weather Channel, offers his top 10 suggestions for keeping you and your family safe in the event of a Tornado Warning!:

  1. If you are in a manufactured (mobile) home, leave immediately and take shelter elsewhere. If you are in a frame house, seek shelter in the lowest level of your home (basement or storm cellar).

  2. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway, a smaller inner room, or a closet. Keep away from all windows.

  3. You can cushion yourself with a mattress, but do not use it to cover yourself. Do cover your head and eyes with a blanket or jacket to protect against flying debris and broken glass. Don't waste time moving mattresses around.

  4. Make sure you have a portable radio, preferably a NOAA weather radio for information, and your cell phone with you to be able to call 911 in the event you are trapped.

  5. Don't try to leave a STURDY building (but do leave a mobile home) to "escape" a tornado. Multiple tornadoes can emerge from the same storm, so do not go out until the storm has passed.

  6. Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier.

  7. If you are outside, try to get inside and seek a small protected space with no windows. Avoid large-span roof areas such as school gymnasiums, arenas, or shopping malls, and again, do not seek shelter in mobile homes.

  8. If you cannot get inside a sturdy building, lie flat, face down in a ditch or low-lying area and cover your head and neck with your arms or a piece of clothing.

  9. While driving: If the tornado is at a distance, stop and let it pass or try to drive away from it if time and roads permit. If it's behind you, don't try to outrun it. If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options: Stay in the car with the seat belt on, and put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. Or, if you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

  10. Once you are in a safe location, call or text family members to make sure they seek shelter immediately.


This site is dedicated to the many families that lost homes and loved ones thru tornadoes and severe weather. I live in Northwest Tennessee and we had our share of tornadoes forming in our area. Because of the great concern and fear in our community. I decided to make information available online on tornadoes. I hope this site will inform you to be prepared when a Tornado Warning takes effect!


A TORNADO WATCH is that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. Be alert to weather conditions and announcements.


A TORNADO WARNING is issued by the National Weather Service when a tornado has actually been sighted or is indicated by radar.

All personnel should be alerted when there is a TORNADO WARNING.

If the sound of "approaching freight train" is heard, individuals should lie down next to the wall closest to hallways. Individuals should seek an area away from glass windows or doors.

Once a tornado is HEARD, there is no time to notify personnel or students.

A tornado (from the Spanish "tronada", meaning thunderstorm) is a violently rotating column of air rising up into a cloud. A thunderstorm is the first step in the creation of a tornado. A thunderstorm happens when there is moisture in the atmosphere, a lifting force causing air to begin rising, and unstable air that will continue to rise once it starts. Then, if other conditions are right, the thunderstorm may spin out one or more tornadoes.

Birth of a Tornado All thunderstorms are characterized by updrafts, rising air currents which supply the warm, humid air that fuels thunderstorms; sometimes, however, the column of rising air becomes a vortex -- a funnel cloud, or, if it reaches the ground, a tornado.

A tornado is often located at the edge of an updraft, next to air coming down from the thunderstorm with falling rain or hail. (This explains why a burst of heavy rain or hail sometimes announces a tornado's arrival.) As air rises from the ground in the tornado's vortex, a low pressure area is created near the ground. Air rushes to fill this area, causing additional damage to areas not directly hit by the tornado.

As air rushes into the vortex, its pressure lowers, cooling the air. This cooling condenses water vapor in the air into the tornado's familiar funnel-shaped cloud. As the swirling winds pick up dust, dirt, and debris from the ground, the funnel turns even darker. (Twisters that pick up little dirt can retain their white, cloud coloration, and some have taken on a red hue by picking up red dirt.)

Photo By: NSSL Experts once thought tornado winds exceeded 500 mph. Research in recent years, however, has shown that winds rarely exceed 250 mph and most tornadoes have winds of less than 112 mph. Tornadoes are also relatively small. An average tornado will be 400 to 500 feet wide and travel four or five miles on the ground, lasting only a few minutes. A mile-wide tornado is extremely large, and tornadoes this big are rare. Many tornadoes are small, less than 100 feet wide, and last only a few minutes. A few monster tornadoes are a mile or more wide and can last for an hour or more. As the parent thunderstorm travels along, tornadoes can come down from the cloud, run along the ground and lift back up to be followed by other tornadoes. Generally, tornadoes move along the ground at around 20 to 50 mph, but some race along faster than 70 mph.

The most destructive tornadoes also often have smaller suction vortices rotating around the main vortex. These show up in some photos and leave distinctive, looped patterns in fields of corn or other crops knocked over by the winds.

Greensburg, Kansas May 4, 2007. A EF5 tornado swept home clean off it's foundation

Tornado debris can be huge. A monster tornado that hit Plainfield, Ill., on Aug. 28, 1990, lifted a 20-ton trailer from a tractor-trailer rig on U.S. Highway 30 and bounced it five times before it stopped in a field 1,150 feet from the highway. Debris blown by tornado winds can pound buildings to pieces.

The strongest tornadoes come from the kind of long-lasting, especially fierce thunderstorms known as supercells. As the name implies, these are intense thunderstorms which can produce large hail and downbursts in addition to tornadoes. Some bring heavy rain while others are relatively dry. Supercells are most common on the Plains in the Southeast and across the Midwest, but do occur elsewhere.

Storms form when there is unstable air, a source of lifting, and humidity. A supercell forms when particular patterns of upper air winds are also present, patterns which cause the storm to last longer than an ordinary thunderstorm. Supercells often develop rotating winds inside them known as mesocyclones, associated with strong tornadoes. However, scientists don't yet understand the connections between mesocyclones and tornadoes that actually reach from them down to the ground.

Not all tornadoes come from supercells, but the strongest twisters usually have a supercell as a their parent. Weaker vortices, such as waterspouts like those common in the Florida Keys, can come from cumulus congestus clouds, also known as towering cumulus. These are tall, thick cumulus clouds that might be producing rain but not thunder and lightning. Some researchers use the term landspouts for similar twisters that form over land instead of water.

Gustnadoes are weak vortices that are not connected to the cloud base, and by definition are not tornadoes. They are relatively shallow vortices associated with intense, small-scale shear in a thunderstorm gust front. Because they can produce whirling dust clouds (sometimes with small debris), they are very often erroneously reported as tornadoes. It can take a very alert and experienced spotter to tell the difference.

Fierce Heat Waves & Stronger Storms Coming, Climate Report Warns

By Wynne Parry, LiveScience Senior Writer
Nov. 18, 2011

Humans' activities appear to have brought on more extreme weather - including more hot days, heat waves and heavy precipitation - and we can expect this to worsen in decades to come, according to a report being prepared by the leading international climate change organization. A summary report, released today (Nov. 18), states that since 1950, cold days and nights have decreased, while warm ones have become more frequent globally, as has heavy precipitation. There is also evidence droughts have increased in some places, but decreased in others, the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says.

The rest of the century will bring more extremes, according to this scientific assessment, which predicts:

  • At least a 99 percent likelihood of more frequent and intense daily temperature highs, as well as declines in daily lows.
  • Heat waves that will become more frequent, longer as well as more intense.
  • An increase in heavy precipitation, particularly in the high latitudes, the tropics and during winters in the northern mid-latitudes.
  • More intense droughts in some places. [Photos Reveal Devastating Texas Drought]
  • The wind speed of tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes, is expected to increase, at least in some places, but there may be fewer or no change in the number of cyclones.
  • Extremely high coastal waters thanks to sea level rise
  • More landslides and other events associated with high mountains

Predictions like these bring to mind disastrous events like the European heat wave of 2003, droughts that crippled Russian agriculture in 2010 and hit the U.S. hard this summer, as well as the heavy rains that flooded Pakistan in September. However, climate change did not create these events. Rather, it sets up a situation that enables naturally occurring weather extremes to become more severe. So, the effect of climate change is visible only over the long term.

The situation is like a baseball player on steroids, according to Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. If that player hits one home run, it's not clear if that home run is due to the steroids. To see how the steroids affected the player, it's necessary to compare his performance during the steroid-enhanced season with that from a previous one when he was not using steroids, Meehl said.

"Greenhouse gases are the steroids of the climate system," said Meehl, who served as a reviewer for part of the climate change report. "Greenhouse gases have changed the background state of climate such that the chances of setting heat records are much greater than (those of setting cold records)." Some changes are more easily observed and predicted than others.

By looking back 50 years at temperature records from across the continental U.S., Meehl and colleagues found that the ratio of days when temperatures exceeded their record high for that date to days when temperatures dropped below their record low for that date shifted in favor of record warmth. Between 2000 and 2010, the ratio of record highs to lows grew to 2 to 1. That shift continued into the future, in their computer models, with warm days outnumbering cold ones as much as 50 to 1 by the end of the century. It is significant, Meehl points out, that the extreme cold days did not go away.

While it's intuitive that global warming would cause more extreme heat, the report suggests there's also a 66 percent or greater likelihood it will lead to more heavy rain and snowfall in many areas. That's because global warming means warmer air in some places, and the warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold, providing more water for a storm to dump, he explained. Some changes are more difficult to predict than others.

While the summary report offers some predictions about tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes, looking ahead at these types of events can be tricky. Hurricanes are problematic because ideally they require global ocean-atmosphere models run for a century or more with higher spatial resolution than what current computers make feasible. Also, the observational record of hurricanes is spotty prior to the 1970s, when satellites began tracking them, so the historical record before then is more uncertain.

How often does Tornadoes repeatedly occurring annually, in the same regency?

Here's a chart that shows Tornadoes frequency touch downs in regent
Tornado Frequency

Where to get help

FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance
(800) 462-9029
(800) 462-7585 For hearing impaired

How you can help

American Red Cross Donations
(800) HELP-NOW

By SevereShear - May 31, 2010, Length Time: 8:14

A slow-moving, isolated supercell in extreme southeast Colorado produces a handful of tornadoes, most of which were long-lived. This is broken into several parts as there is quite a bit of footage. All video shot by Brandon Goforth.

Gives tips of what to do in case of a tornado
American Red Cross


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