¡ Tornados! by Gail Gibbons

¡ Tornados! by Gail Gibbons

Author: Gail Gibbons
View book: ¡ Tornados!

In these times of extreme weather, the informative introduction to tornados written by Gail Gibbons provides insights into what a tornado is and offers practical safety tips. Tornados are formed when warm and humid air rises from the ground and meets colder, denser air that descends towards the earth. These two air currents begin to swirl, incorporating more and more air to form a funnel-shaped cloud. The winds can spin at speeds exceeding 261 miles per hour (420 kilometers per hour)! Recently updated and endorsed by meteorological experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Tornados!” is a perfect introduction to understanding this fascinating phenomenon.

With Gail Gibbons’ acclaimed precise texts and detailed illustrations, this book contains over fifty facts about tornados, including how they form, the scale used to classify them, and the safest places to seek shelter in case a tornado occurs nearby. Known for her engaging and straightforward writing style, colorful illustrations, and clear informative diagrams, Gail Gibbons’ non-fiction books are considered “essential in any collection” (Kirkus Reviews). They present complex topics in a clear and accessible manner for young readers beginning to explore the world.

“Tornadoes: The Power and Destruction of Nature”

Tornadoes explained: The Science Behind Nature’s Powerful Funnel Clouds

Tornadoes, also known as twisters or cyclones, are awe-inspiring natural phenomena that can strike with little warning. Unlike hurricanes or earthquakes, tornadoes are relatively small, localized storms. However, what they lack in size, they make up for in sheer power. In this article, we will explore the fascinating science behind tornadoes, how they form, and their destructive potential.

Tornado Formation

Tornadoes typically begin inside storm clouds known as cumulonimbus clouds. These towering and dark clouds are made up of warm, moist air. As the warm air rises, it creates an updraft that pulls more warm air with it. Condensation occurs as the air rises and cools, resulting in rain or hail. The cooler air then falls back towards the ground, creating a downdraft. When the updraft and downdraft converge and start to spin, a funnel-shaped cloud forms inside the storm cloud. This funnel cloud may tilt and reach down towards the ground, becoming a tornado if it touches the surface.

The Fujita Tornado Scale

In 1971, T. Theodore Fujita introduced the Fujita Tornado Scale to rate tornadoes based on the severity of their damage. This scale has since been enhanced and is now known as the Enhanced Fujita Tornado Scale (EF Scale). The EF Scale classifies tornadoes from EF-0 to EF-5 based on their estimated wind speeds and the amount and type of damage they cause. EF-0 tornadoes have the least amount of damage, while EF-5 tornadoes are the most violent and destructive.

The Devastating Power of Tornadoes

Tornadoes can cause significant damage no matter their size or duration. Even a relatively weak tornado can uproot trees, damage roofs, and overturn vehicles. In contrast, more powerful tornadoes can demolish well-constructed houses, lift cars off the ground, and even carry away entire structures. EF-5 tornadoes, the most violent category, have wind speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour (321.9 kilometers per hour).

Tornado Alley

There are two regions in the United States that frequently experience tornadoes. One is an area often referred to as Tornado Alley, located in the central section of the country. Tornadoes in this region primarily occur during the months of April, May, and June. The other region is the state of Florida, where tornadoes are more common during January, February, and March. The United States experiences approximately 1,200 tornadoes each year, more than any other country.

Staying Safe during a Tornado

When a tornado approaches, it’s crucial to take immediate action to protect yourself. If you have a basement, seek shelter there. If you don’t, go to an interior closet or bathroom, away from outside walls. Crouch down low and cover your head with your hands. Avoid windows and outside walls, and if possible, find cover under a set of stairs. If you are caught in a car, get out immediately and try to find a low spot, such as a ditch, to lie flat on your stomach while covering your head.

Tornado Happenings

Here are some interesting facts about tornadoes:

  • Most tornadoes occur in the afternoon.
  • Typically, tornadoes last less than 10 minutes.
  • Tornadoes rotate counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
  • Funnel clouds can also form over bodies of water, known as water spouts.
  • The National Weather Service is responsible for issuing tornado forecasts in the United States.


Tornadoes are extraordinary natural events that can cause immense destruction in a matter of minutes. By understanding the science behind tornado formation and taking appropriate safety measures, we can better prepare ourselves and mitigate the risks associated with these powerful storms.

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