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5 Types of Malignant Tornadoes: Unveiling Nature’s Destructive Side

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“In the eye of the tornado, there is no more high and low, no floor and sky.”

This meaningful quote by Francis Alys gives us an idea about the menacing and monstrous creations of mother nature—Tornadoes. They are one of the scariest things one can witness and have different origins, shapes, sizes, and intensities. These thunderstorms have countless types and strange behavioral patterns, destroying everything that comes in a way barbarously. In this blog, we try to depict the most terrifying tornado types and their examples that have stupified people.

Tornado Types

1. Rope Tornadoes


Rope Tornadoes are a common type and small Tornadoes that have a ropy, windy appearance as their name suggests. They have twists and bends in their funnel-like structure and are in constant contact with the ground. In their final minutes, they can take monstrous shapes and as they get narrower, they become more powerful and intense. Usually, these tornadoes are approximately 30 feet wide.

The USA and Canada saw plenty of dangerous rope tornadoes that have massively destructed mankind as well as nature. El Reno OK, a rope-shaped tornado hit Canada on 30 April 1978 destroying well-built barns, 15 houses, and 3 farmhouses that were completely devastated. Such tornadoes can last for a few seconds to a maximum of one hour. They travel from southwest to northwest with a speed range between 30mph to 70mph.

2. Cone Tornadoes


People have experienced the frequent appearance of this type of tornado. They roll across the Plains of the United States. As their name suggests, they have a narrower size when they get to the ground and comparatively have a wider base at the place where they meet the thunderstorm. As there is a chance of expansion of their paths, they might turn very dangerous and destructive.

A cone tornado hit San Angelo on May 17, 2021, that was 115mph speed and started from Sterling County, Texas. As per the reports by The National Weather Service (NWS), there were no injuries or fatalities reported. The most extreme cone tornadoes can travel at more than 300mph approximately 3km in diameter.

3. Satellite and Multi-Vortex Tornadoes


One of the high-powered hubs of tornadoes, Supercell tornadoes have the ability to produce multiple thunderstorms while others can produce multiple twisters at the same time. Like a satellite revolves around the Sun, this tornado revolves around the main tornado. Though both them, primary and secondary travel separately, they originated from the same parent mesocyclone. According to the reports by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, they are associated with strong EF4 and EF5 main Tornadoes.

Multi-Vortex Tornadoes have two or more vortices called ‘sub vortices’ spiraling inside a single tornado. Usually, these vortices occur in a group of two-five and they can turn into a large combined tornado. 2011 Joplin, Missouri was a multi-vortex tornado that reached a maximum width of one mile (16 km) and killed around 158 people. It was the seventh-deadliest tornado in history.

4. Wedge Tornadoes


A Wedge tornado is a destructive tornado and it appears as an upside-down pyramid. They have their condensation funnel wider than their height and can be a cause of massive destruction. They have a large amount of dirt and debris that give them blackish-dusky color. Wedges are violent and can be considered EF3, EF4, and EF5-level storms.

El Reno was the worst and deadliest wedge tornado. One, that hit Oklahoma on May 31, 2013, was the widest tornado ever recorded. It was grown to 2.6 miles wide during the storm period.

5. Waterspouts and Landspouts


Waterspout and landspout Tornadoes can develop even if there is a thunderstorm-like situation. A waterspout looks like a column of wind rotating over a water body. The reason behind the waterspout is the condensation and it is actually not filled with water. Sometimes it comes with dangers such as high surf, hail, and lightning. The other type gets formed from rain clouds.

Sometimes, these thunderstorms come ashore and create significant damage. According to the stats by National Ocean Service, the most common types are tornadic and fair-weather. Tornadic waterspouts are associated with thunderstorms and have the properties of Tornadoes while fair-weather waterspouts get created along the base of clouds. They get developed upward from the water and move very slowly.

Damage Indicator Scale

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the nation records approximately 1000 Tornadoes. Some of them are less hazardous, while some create devastating situations, just like a monster destroys everything that comes his way. Tornado intensity is measured in terms of the enhanced Fujita (EF) scale.


Causes and Effects

Different factors are responsible for the development of nature’s threatening creation. Tornadoes are formed when unstable air creates wind funnels. When warm air and wet air collide with cold air, they are created. They majorly develop across huge plains and barns of the United States, known as ‘Tornado Alley’ and some parts of Canada. Primarily, states like Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama get affected due to these thunderstorms.

These dangerous storms have devastating effects. They affect the day-to-day lives of humankind and animals as well as become a solid reason for fatality and serious injuries. Additionally, connections between two states or villages get destroyed, and most importantly, people get disturbed mentally. It gets more difficult for them to recover from these deadliest incidents. And thus, they need some sort of support to march ahead on the path of recovery.

List of Deadliest Tornadoes (Based on Death Toll)

State/ LocationDateDeath Toll
Tri-State (Mo., Ill., Ind.)March 18, 1925689
Natchez, Miss.May 6, 1840317
St. Louis, Mo.May 27, 1896255
Tupelo, Miss.April 5, 1936216
Gainesville, Ga.April 6, 1936203
Woodward, Okla.April 9, 1947181
Amite La.; Purvis, Miss.April 24, 1908143
Joplin, MOMay 22, 2011122
New Richmond, Wis.June 12, 1899117
Flint, Mich. June 8, 1953115

Prajakta Zurale

ALSO READ: Answering the Big Question: What causes a volcano to erupt?

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