Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Tornadoes?

They’re violent, dramatic and deadly. Knowing more about them could help save your life

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Test your knowledge about these whirling, raging storms. What you don't know could hurt you!

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incoming tornado

Question 1 of 12 Score: 0

Tornadoes move at an average speed of:

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average speed is 30 mph. Wind speeds inside a tornado can whip up to 300 mph. Most twisters tear up only a few miles of land. But the 1925 Great Tri-State Tornado, the deadliest in the U.S., tore up the biggest track recorded: 235 miles, from Missouri to Illinois.

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Question 2 of 12 Score: 0

Most tornadoes travel in which direction?

Most tornadoes travel from southwest to northeast, although they can appear from any direction and even backtrack, notes NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. Although tornadoes can appear nearly anywhere, they generally strike the United States in the center of the country, just east of the Rocky Mountains from Texas and the Deep South up to lower Michigan.

measuring tornado

Question 3 of 12 Score: 0

Tornadoes are measured by:

Tornadoes are rated by the Enhanced Fujita scale system, which is based on a storm’s damage. The American Meteorological Society says wind speeds are estimated by assigning degrees of damage and range from EF0 (65 to 85 mph) to EF5 (200 mph +).

map of continents

Question 4 of 12 Score: 0

On which continent has a tornado never been spotted?

No tornado has ever been reported on Antarctica (due to its dry, cold winds). Still, The National Climatic Data Center says a tornado event there is not impossible. Tornadoes have been observed in every U.S. state and on every other continent.

tornado on map

Question 5 of 12 Score: 0

A tornado can be predicted how far in advance?

NOAA's computer models provide “convective outlooks” issued two to three days in advance that can include the risk of tornadoes. Forecasters can't pinpoint where a twister might hit until just before the cyclone forms. Note: A tornado “watch” means a tornado is possible. A “warning” means a tornado has been seen or indicated by radar.

tornado about to strike

Question 6 of 12 Score: 0

The safest position to assume when a tornado strikes is:

Crouch or kneel on your knees and elbows on the ground facing an interior wall. Put your hands over the back of your head to protect your head and neck.

tornado aftermath

Question 7 of 12 Score: 0

Most tornado injuries occur from:

Flying debris is the biggest cause of injuries and deaths from tornadoes. It’s also important to note that many injuries occur after a storm has passed, when people step on debris on the ground (such as nails) and get hurt.

tornado from car

Question 8 of 12 Score: 0

If a tornado occurs while you are driving you should:

The idea that you’re safer under an underpass is a myth. Winds can speed up in these funnels, so avoid them. Pulling to the side of the road is best. Staying inside your car with your seatbelt on and crouching beneath windows is likely the least risky option.

year round calendar

Question 9 of 12 Score: 0

Tornadoes occur at which time of year:

Tornadoes have been observed year-round even though they most frequently occur during spring and summer months, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. And they usually occur between the hours of 4 pm and 9 pm.

thunderstorm tornado

Question 10 of 12 Score: 0

From which type of thunderstorms do tornadoes spawn:

Most tornadoes are produced by supercell thunderstorms. Supercells have deep, rotating updrafts (called mesocyclones) that create strong winds. They are extremely dangerous storms that can also produce downpours and baseball-size hail.

dog looking at sky

Question 11 of 12 Score: 0

How can you tell a tornado may be coming soon?

Other signs include wall clouds (dark, low, isolated thunders clouds); loud roars of thunder; hail; and, of course, a funnel cloud forming under a thunderstorm cloud.

stormy window

Question 12 of 12 Score: 0

Should you open your windows if a tornado is coming?

It's a myth that opening windows equalizes pressure and can prevent your house from exploding. If a tornado hits it will break them, anyway. Keep windows closed. Close storm shutters as well as drapes and curtains to stop debris or shattered glass from injuring anyone.

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