Web edition: February 8, 2013
Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, with winds that can exceed 480 kilometers (300 miles) per hour. They don’t just toss cars (and sometimes cows). Tragically, tornadoes also kill about 60 people a year in the United States. But that’s just an average. On a single day, April 27, 2011, tornadoes caused catastrophic destruction that led to the deaths of 316 people. Behind it all: a massive storm system that spun off hundreds of tornadoes.
Yes, tornadoes are common, especially in the United States, which records about 1,300 twisters a year. Most strike across a swath of the Great Plains nicknamed “Tornado Alley.” Tornadoes also have been reported on every continent except Antarctica.