What are the characteristics of a tornado?
  • Time of day during which tornadoes are most likely to occur is mid-afternoon, generally between 3 and 7 pm, but they have occurred at all times of day.
  • Direction of Movement is usually from southwest to northeast.(Note: Tornadoes associated with hurricanes may move from an easterly direction.)
  • Length of Path average 4 miles, but may reach 300 miles. A tornado traveled 293 miles across Illinois and Indiana on May 26, 1917, and lasted 7 hours and 20 minutes.
  • Width of Path averages about 300 to 400 yards but tornadoes have cut swatches a mile or more in width.
  • Speed of Travel averages from 25 to 40 miles per hour, but speeds ranging from stationary to 68 miles per hour have been reported.
  • The Cloud directly associated with a tornado is a dark, heavy cumulonimbus (the familiar thunderstorm cloud) from which a whirling funnel-shaped pendant extends to the ground.
  • Precipitation associated with the tornado usually occurs first as rain just preceding the storm, frequently with hail, and as a heavy downpour immediately to the left of the tornado's path.
  • Sound occurring during a tornado has been described as a roaring, rushing noise, closely approximating that made by a train speeding through a tunnel or over a trestle, or the roar of many airplanes.

Show All Answers

1. What is a tornado?
2. What is the difference between a tornado and a funnel cloud?
3. How many tornadoes usually occur in Michigan every year?
4. When do tornadoes generally occur?
5. How fast do tornadoes travel?
6. How far do tornadoes travel once they touch the ground?
7. What is a tornado "watch"?
8. What is a tornado "warning"?
9. How do I find out about a warning if my electricity is already out?
10. What are the characteristics of a tornado?