Tornado Myths..

Tornado myths..they’re out there. Some are humorous and some are serious. Whenever I talked to kids at school, I always leave a majority of my time for “Q & A”. I mean, I could talk all day about weather, but my real purpose is to answer questions that kids might have. So, what kinds of questions have I been asked?

Q: Can a tornado strike a large city?

A: There are some people who believe that a city is likely not to get hit by a tornado. I am not sure of the origins of this, but here in Oklahoma, we know that is indeed not true. True, large cities make up a small portion of the overall land in “tornado alley”, which makes a town getting hit by one less likely. But, it still can and does happen. The Oklahoma City Metro has been hit by a tornado 112 times. More than any other city in America. Thus verifying that tornadoes do no care about city limits.


Q: Is getting Under a Bridge  safe during a tornado?

A: ABSOLUTELY NOT! This practice probably started during the Andover, Kansas tornado outbreak when a couple got out of their car and hid “under the girders” as a tornado passed just south of the bridge During the May 3rd tornado, 3 people did the same thing and died. Sometimes the wind under a bridge can increase as the air is pushed underneath ,thus throwing debris all over the place.

Q: Do tornadoes only occur here in The Central Plains and not the mountains?

A: While tornadoes are most frequent in The Central Plains where the land is mostly flat. They can , though rare, occur in the mountains. The picture below, taken by Scott Newton was shot in Sequoia National Park at an elevation of 12,000 feet. The white streaks around it are hail stones, about quarter size. This picture has been documented as being the highest (elevation) tornado on record.

Q: What is it like inside a tornado? Is it calm like a hurricane?

A: I loved the movie Twister, but at the end, when the couple are strapped to a bar and staring into each others eyes, that’s just Hollywood talking. Tim Samaras, an amazing Storm Chaser, who has built these pods with cameras in them, actually had the center of a tornado pass within a few feet of his video pod. The “inside” of the tornado was just as nasty as the outside. Lots of wind, debris, etc. While there may be an “eye” of a tornado, since there has to be a center point somewhere, it’s likely going to be next to impossible to find. So, no it’s not “calm” like a hurricane.



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  1. […] more on KOCO 5 Oklahoma City Tags: Blog, Exposed, Myths, […]

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