Tornadoes: Power & Fury

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Synopsis: Twisting Tornadoes

Tornadoes are capable of serious destruction. What gets them twisting? Where do they get their energy? How can we protect ourselves when a tornado is approaching?

Woman holds her face in her hands amid the devastation

AP Photo/John S. Stewart
Darlene Young reacts to the devastation around her house in Pierce City, Mo., Monday, May 5, 2003, the day after the town was hit by a tornado. Young says her house was spared destruction by a church next to it that took the brunt of the winds.

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Discussion Questions

  1. Where is Tornado Alley? What causes its unique tornado activity?
  2. What are the conditions necessary to start a tornado?
  3. What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?
  4. Where is a safe location during a Tornado Warning?
  5. What is the ultimate source of the energy that drives a tornado?

Lesson Plans/Activities

  1. Make a tornado! Using only 2-liter bottles and some duct tape, try the tornado-in-a-bottle activity shown in the Why File’s very own tornado article. The Exploratorium also shows you how to do this.