Dancing with Tornados

Text: Danie Botha
Photography: Discovery Channel

In 2009 a total of nine killer tornados claimed the lives of 21 people in the United States.

Even with advance weather warning systems, tornado sirens, Doppler radar stations scattered across the country and dedicated tornado shelters in heavily affected areas, tornados still wreak havoc in the so-called “Tornado Alley”.

America’s great plains, situated in the centre of this vast country, are generally flat, and it’s there that cold and dry air from the polar regions in Canada collide with warm, tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the perfect breeding ground for tornados and, on average, the country has to brave 1200 tornados per year, or about three per day.

Tornados are not limited to the United States, of course.

South Africa also features on “frequent tornado” lists, something we share with countries in the Far East, some countries in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South American countries such as Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Basically it boils down to the topography of the land? large flat areas and warm and moist tropical air colliding with colder, dry air.