Monday 12 May 2014

Missouri town hit by tornado.

Residents of the town of Orrick in Ray County, Missouri, are cleaning up after a tornado hit at about 5.30 pm on Saturday 10 May 2014. The town received about 15 minutes warning of the event, allowing everyone to reach shelters safely, but a number of homes and other buildings, including the Orrick High School, and a number of agricultural buildings. The town also suffered power outages, and an overnight curfew was imposed while downed power cables were made safe.

Damage to buildings in Orrick, Missouri, following the 10 May 2014 tornado. KOMU.

The tornado is thought to have measured 2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale (an EF-2 tornado); such a tornado will produce windspeeds of 178–217 km per hour (50–60 meters per second).

Tornadoes are formed by winds within large thunder storms called super cells. Supercells are large masses of warm water-laden air formed by hot weather over the sea, when they encounter winds at high altitudes the air within them begins to rotate. The air pressure will drop within these zones of rotation, causing the air within them so rise, sucking the air beneath them up into the storm, this creates a zone of rotating rising air that appears to extend downwards as it grows; when it hits the ground it is called a tornado. 

The location of Orrick, Missouri; hit by a tornado on 10 May 2014. Google Maps.

Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the world, but are most common, and most severe, in the area of the American mid-west known as 'Tornado Ally', running from Texas to Minnisota, which is fueled by moist air currents from over the warm enclosed waters of the Gulf of Mexico interacting with cool fast moving jet stream winds from the Rocky Mountains. Many climatologists are concerned that rising temperatures over the Gulf of Mexico will lead to more frequent and more severe tornado events.

Simplified diagram of the air currents that contribute to tornado formation in Tornado Alley. Dan Craggs/Wikimedia Commons/NOAA.

See also...

At least 18 people have been injured and many more left without homes or electricity following an outbreak of tornadoes on the evening of Friday 25 April 2014. Fifteen of those known to have...

Eight people are known to have died following a series of tornadoes in the American Midwest on Sunday 17 November 2013, which also...

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