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Illustrated tornado from the book The Wizard of Oz
© W. R. Wright, Piglet Press Inc. (www.halcyon.com/piglet/)

Common Tornado Myths

Has someone told you to open your windows during a tornado? Or has someone told you that you don't have to worry about tornadoes because the place where you live is protected? These are two of the most common myths about tornadoes. Neither of them are true.

Scientists once thought that the low pressure in a tornado caused the normal air pressure in houses to explode out. It turned out that the strong winds from the tornado destroyed the houses, not the pressure change. In fact, opening the windows can cause even more damage.

Some people thought that tornadoes couldn't cross mountains or rivers. This is true for small tornadoes, but the strong ones can. And they're the ones that cause the most destruction.

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Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more

Pressure

When you "blow up" a balloon, you are adding pressure to the inside of the balloon. That makes the rubber in the balloon stretch. The balloon gets bigger. Pressure is an idea scientists use to describe...more

Tornadoes

Tornadoes form from severe thunderstorms. They are very destructive because they have a high energy density. They also don't last very long. This makes it hard to learn about them. Since scientists don't...more

Wave Beats

Sound travels in waves. When the waves hit your ear, you hear a sound. Have you ever noticed the waves in the ocean? They go up and down, up and down. Sound waves act the same way. The number of times...more

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Storm chasers are different than storm spotters. Chasers travel around Tornado Alley looking for severe storms and tornadoes. Sometime there are dozens of chasers following the same storm. All kinds of...more

Energy Density

A tornado is the most destructive natural storm. You might think that this also means that tornadoes are the strongest storms; that's not the case. In fact, a thunderstorm which produces a tornado can...more

The Doppler Effect

The Doppler effect was named after Christian Doppler, who first came up with the idea in 1842. He learned that sound waves would be pushed closer together if the source of the sound was moving toward you....more

Tornado Forecasts

Tornadoes are hard to forecast. They don't last very long so there's not much time to figure out what's happening. Also, scientists don't really know how they form. They know what the weather's like when...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF