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Tornadoes

  • By: Thomas W. Schmidlin
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground. It usually forms under a cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) cloud and is visible as a condensation funnel or by the dust and other debris incorporated into the rotation. About 1,500 tornadoes are recorded annually around the middle latitudes of Earth, and they typically cause 100 to 300 deaths.

Regional Occurrences and Frequencies

Tornadoes occur in many regions of the world but are most frequent in the middle latitudes, especially in the Central and Southern United States, but with the most loss of life and livelihood occurring in Central Bangladesh. The United States records about 1,100 tornadoes annually. This count has doubled since the 1950s, but the increase is thought to be due to better reporting ...

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