Inside a Tornado

Oct 1, 1996 5:00 AMNov 12, 2019 4:36 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Tornadoes are the most violent of storms, and perhaps the least understood. These vortices of upwardly spiraling wind have been studied for decades, but information about them is usually, and understandably, obtained from a distance, precluding fine-scale measurements of rotational speed, shear forces, and internal wind pathways. Three meteorologists, Joshua Wurman and Jerry Straka of the University of Oklahoma, and Erik Rasmussen of the National Severe Storms Laboratory, decided to get a little closer. Using a radar dish mounted on a small truck, they drove within two miles of a giant twister, closer than one normally gets to a tornado voluntarily. As the tornado rampaged through Dimmitt, Texas, the meteorologists recorded wind speeds exceeding 140 miles an hour. The yellow and pink areas in these images show wind moving away from the radar; green shows wind moving toward it The really original thing here, says Straka, is that we were able to get that close to a tornado and see that all the theoretical models that we’ve developed over the past 20 years really do work.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.