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Tornado in Esterbrook, Wyoming on July 28, 2018. Image from www.weather.com.
This is the tricky part. Our research project is to help better predict tornado formation with a longer warning time. Currently, we can only predict tornadoes with about a 12 minute warning time before it hits an area. This is not enough time for everyone to get into safety.
Currently, the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center uses a system that anyone in the United States with access to radio or television should be accustomed to. To the left is the current warning level that are issued in relation to tornadoes and other weather conditions.
Tornadoes are extremely dangerous storms that cause extreme damage and are responsible for the fastest winds ever recorded on earth. Any place in the world can experience them, but the area that sees the most tornadoes annually as well as the strongest tornadoes is the area between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Appalachian Mountains to the east in the center of the United States. The area with the absolute most tornadoes is known as Tornado Alley.
Image courtesy of www.fema.gov. Not listed is a type of alert that has been used less than 20 times. It is known as a Tornado Emergency. That means that a tornado is confirmed and is extremely dangerous or deadly. It is not an official alert level, but is a heightened level of tornado warning.
Usually, a tornado forms from a Super Cell Thunderstorm. These storms form quickly and begin to rotate. This rotation, along with multiple other factors, causes the circulation to reach the surface and creates a tornado. For more information on the process as it is currently understood, see NOAA's page about tornadoes by clicking here.