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Tornadoes: True or False

With all of this crazy weather spitting out violent tornadoes, I thought this would be a good time to address some of the things you may have heard about tornadoes lately…

#1.) Tornadoes only occur in North America.

False: We seem to get more than anyone else, but there have been tornadoes in Australia and New Zealand this month. They’ve also hit Argentina and South Africa in recent years.

#2.) Two percent of tornadoes account for 70% of the deaths.

True: One out of every 50 tornadoes is categorized as Violent, and they account for nearly three out of every four tornado deaths.

(photo by NOAA)

#3.) Severe tornadoes can only last about 20 minutes.

False: The stronger a tornado is, the longer it lasts, and some have lasted more than three hours.

#4.) Late afternoon is the most common time for tornadoes.

True: The majority occur between 3:00 and 9:00 P.M.

#5.) Tornadoes spin clockwise north of the equator and counter clockwise south of it.

False: Tornadoes can spin both ways, although 95% of them spin counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and clockwise in the Southern.

#6.) Tornadoes that form over dry environments can be nearly invisible.

True: Tornadoes are usually the color of whatever they suck up.  If there is no moisture or debris, they can be hard to see.

Photo from Flickr

#7.) Storms that form tornadoes have more lightning than regular, non-tornado thunderstorms.

False: Studies have shown that tornado formation does not depend on the amount of lightning in a storm.

#8.) This is the sixteenth year that more than 360 Americans have died in tornadoes since they started keeping records in 1875.

True: But the last year before this one that the death toll was that high was 1975.

(Photo by NOAA Photo Library/Getty Images)

#9.) The odds of being killed by a tornado are one in five million.

True: Meteorologists for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration figured that out.

#10.) People who live in mobile homes are 15 times more likely to be killed than people in permanent housing.

True: Researchers think death rates from tornadoes have started going back up, because more people are living in mobile homes.

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