Technically a tornado is just a violent, rotating, column of air coming out of the bottom of a thunderstorm. But it takes a lot to get that violently rotating column to come out.
All you need for a tornado really to form though are thunderstorms and a jet stream. That Jets stream’s aloft, it makes the energy.
If you have moisture at the surface, dry air, cold air, pushing that moisture up you can get a tornado to form in any state.
Those days where all the ingredients combine, you get the humidity, you get the dry air, you get the jet stream, you get upper energy in the jet stream, you get winds turning as you go aloft.
The higher you go the winds actually change direction. That can cause storms…and those things all cause storms to exist and get big. Those are the ingredients that cause a big tornado day.
So now the EF scale, the Enhance Fugio scale, starts at zero, goes only to five and anything above 200 miles per hour is considered an EF-5 tornado.
If you have a zero, you’re going to lose shingles. A one you may lose a couple of boards on the roof. A two, you lose all the windows and maybe even a wall.
A 3, an EF3 you will lose a couple of walls on the outside but there will still be a part of the home standing. And EF4, most of the home is gone but you’ll still see a refrigerator, you’ll still see a closet and you’ll still see the bathroom.
An EF5, you cannot find the house. It’s completely gone. We don’t know how big that Fujida scale will be, how big that tornado will be literally till after we look at the damage.
We have this, almost this triangulation that no other country in the world, no other region in the world has. We have the Rocky Mountains to our West, we have the Gulf of Mexico in our South, we have Canada and very cold air masses coming down from the North. All of those things combined make tornado alley.
Typically the plains, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, all the ways to Chicago, as far as South as the Southeast, including Georgia and Alabama, that’s basically the new or the bigger tornado alley.
The greatest threat of a tornado is being hit by something that the tornado is moving, if you’re outside or you’re not protected inside.
If you get hit by a 140 mile-per-hour 2x4, you’re going to be killed. So you need to be inside at the lowest level, somewhere in the middle of the home, away from windows.
When you hear the word warning and you hear your county, that’s when you need to take cover. When you hear the word “watch” that means something might happen today, let’s have a plan.
When you hear the word warning it’s too late to make a plan. You need to already have the plan. Warning’s the long word, it’s the bad one.