Tornadoes are the most violent of all atmospheric events. A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air attached to a thunderstorm and in contact with the ground. In the most intense tornadoes, winds approach 290 miles an hour.
Those winds exact a terrible toll on texas each year, including an average of 15 deaths, nearly 200 injuries and many more people left homeless. From 1916-1993, over 1100 texans have lost their lives due to tornadoes.
From 1950-1993, approximately 5300 tornadoes have been reported throughout the state, or about 120 tornadoes each . Seventy percent are reported from march through june. Most tornadoes occur during the late afternoon and early evening hours however, tornadoes can form any time of the year, day or night.
The lifespan of a tornado can be anywhere from a few seconds to over an hour. They may remain on the ground for a few yards or for nearly 100 miles.
most tornadoes move from southwest to northeast at an average speed of 30 miles an hour. However, tornadoes can move at speeds up to 70 miles an hour, or they can remain nearly stationary.
There are three broad classifications of tornadoes based on their intensity. These categories are weak, strong, and violent. Average statistics for these categories are given below:
Eighty-five percent of all tornadoes will be classified as weak tornadoes usually cover less 3 miles on the ground and will last only a few minutes. Their average path width is only 100 feet or so. They have winds up to 120 miles an hour, and can cause significant damage and casualties.
Fifteen percent of tornadoes fall into the strong category. Strong tornadoes are usually about 1/4 mile wide with winds up to 200 miles an hour. They can be in contact with the ground for 15-20 minutes and most have path lengths up to 30 miles.
Less than two percent of texas tornadoes are classified as violent. Although they are rare, violent tornadoes are responsible for most of the deaths. These tornadoes have winds over 200 miles an hour and can be over one mile wide. They can cover up to 100 miles along the ground and can be in contact with the ground for over an hour.
Some of the violent tornadoes which have struck t in the past include waco in 1953, lubbock in 1970, wichita falls in 1979, saragosa in 1987, fritch in 1992, the dallas suburb of lancaster in 1994, and the may 3 1999 tornadoes in oklahoma city.