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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 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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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