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Science vs. Nature—How We Learned to Understand Tornadoes

Tornadoes have wreaked havoc for years, causing immeasurable destruction and loss of property and life. They’re one of nature’s most unpredictable phenomena, being concentrated in certain areas, especially in the United States.

However, despite the knowledge amassed, we’ve only just scratched the surface, because tornadoes aren’t a macro-level weather event. There is still a lot more to learn.

Some of the ways in which meteorologists and other researchers, including those involved in product development, disaster relief, and public health, have understood these twisters include the following.

Understanding their formation

Tornadoes are rapidly and violently columns of air that are suspended between the ground and the clouds. They originate from supercell thunderstorms that comprise of warm moisture on the surface and cold, dry air that have opposing pulls. This is essentially what causes the most devastatingly large tornadoes to form.


Supercell storms emerge as a result of winds that get more intense and shift direction with height, resulting in the air rotating with ferocity.

Not all supercell storms result in tornadoes, and not all tornadoes emerge from these storms, so it’s not always conclusive. The constant factor is atmospheric instability.

Developing tools, metrics and a scale to measure the impact

Important meteorological tools such as barometers and doppler radars are part of the measuring process, being used to monitor air pressure, and thunderstorms, respectively.

Each tool allows researchers to keep track of developments, intensity, and potential conditions that could lead to tornado formation, making it easier to collate data and reach a conclusion.


Based on a combination of factors such as a drop in the air pressure and intensity of winds, humidity and moisture in the air, and direction of winds, ‘turtles’ are also very useful devices that are placed in the path of tornadoes by experts known as storm-chasers. Developed by the legendary researcher, the late Tim Samaras, these devices are fairly comprehensive methods of data collection in real-time.

With that being said, however, it’s crucial to note that tornadoes cannot be measured accurately based on strength. There are too many variables and inconsistencies in the formation and result. However, the scale known as Enhanced Fujita (EF) that we commonly use when referring to tornadoes, refers to the destruction.

Ranging from 0 to 5, with 0 being the least destructive and 5 being the most, this scale factors in fatalities, damage and destruction to property, hospital data, and more.

Creating testing mechanisms for protection

With a greater increase in knowledge about their formation, potential impact, and years of trial, error, and loss, researchers have developed mechanisms to test the impact of tornadoes on shelters and bunkers. This is a crucial step in learning to protect ourselves, as we focus on building safer, stronger, more resilient shelters to brave these storms.

Storm Shelter

The Texas Tech Impact Test has been developed by Texas Tech University and helps companies like ours develop sturdy shelters for our clients. Each of our products undergoes multiple tests to ensure its ability to withstand even the most brutal storms. You can learn more about it, and place an order for garage shelters as well as community shelters anywhere in Oklahoma on our website.


You can also reach out to us for a free quote.

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