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Tornado Myths - Windows to the Universe

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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 ever told you to open your windows during a tornado? Or has someone ever 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 and neither of them are true.

Scientists once thought houses exploded when a tornado passed over because of the really low pressure in the tornado. They figured that the higher pressure in the house would knock down the walls trying to get out. So they said you should open your windows to equalize the pressure. It turns out that more damage can be done by opening the windows.

Some people thought that tornadoes couldn't cross mountains or rivers. This is true for small tornadoes, but the strong ones--the ones which cause the most destruction--can cross almost anything.

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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