Media Information

Feature articles and programmes

TORRO Directors and Executives are occasionally involved with special features, whereby an editor or producer decides to devote an article or programme to some aspect of severe weather. Sometimes special features are prompted by severe weather that occurred in their readers' or listeners' catchment area a few weeks before (and by which time reasonably comprehensive information is likely to have been collected on the event(s) by TORRO).

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Useful facts about tornadoes

Please credit TORRO when using the below information for your reports.
  • "Mini tornado" is not a recognised expression and is not used by any research or scientific body. Tornado is a name given to describe a weather phenomenon. The correct terminology is "tornado" regardless of size, strength, location or attributes.
  • A tornado is a violently rotating column of air pendulant from a cumuliform cloud. Formed by an updraught ingesting boundary layer with vorticity and stretching it.
  • Tornadoes revolve both anticlockwise and clockwise, in both the northern and southern hemisphere. This is because they are too small to be affected by the Coriolis force (the means by which the Earth's rotation deflects winds around high and low pressure areas). However anticlockwise tornadoes are more prevalent in the northern hemisphere but this is due to storm mechanisms and not the Earth's rotation.
  • Based on the 30 year average (1981-2010), 36 tornadoes occur each year in the UK. Though the figure will often vary somewhat when considering each individual year.
  • The UK’s most severe tornado on record hit Welbourn, Lincolnshire on 23rd October 1666 rated T8-9 on the International Tornado Intensity Scale.
  • One of the UK's most severe tornadoes destroyed the church of St. Mary le Bow and 600 homes in central London on 23rd October 1091. Four of the church's 26-foot (7.9m) long rafters were reportedly driven so hard into the ground that only four feet (1.2m) of them was visible.
  • Also on 14th December 1810, a T7-8 tornado on the Tornado Intensity Scale travelled from Old Portsmouth to Southsea Common. An eyewitness spoke of the lead roof of a bank being "rolled up like a piece of canvas and blown away".
  • Although in recent years deaths from tornadoes are very rare, the UK’s deadliest tornado on record on 27th October 1913 killed five people in Abercynon and Edwardsville in south Wales.
  • The Tay Bridge rail disaster in Scotland, on 28th December 1879 was caused by waterspouts. Eyewitnesses saw two or three close to the bridge, immediately before seeing the glowing embers from the engine fall into the River Tay, which are believed to have cut the bridge after the pre-existing high winds and poor construction weakened it.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado even in a car; Nor should you try to punch through the eye of a storm. If the tornado is close get out of the vehicle and shelter in a solid building. Tornadoes can change direction suddenly and can outrun vehicles. If you are caught out in the open seek the lowest point on the ground such as a gully or ditch and lie face down as flat as you can. Close your eyes tightly and cover your ears with your hands.

  • The USA gets around 1,250 reported tornadoes in an average year. This figure is based over a 20 year period (1991-2010).
  • On 3 & 4 April 1974, 144 tornadoes touched down in 13 American states. It was the largest outbreak in USA history, leaving 330 dead and 5,000 injured.
  • The USA's greatest death toll from a single tornado was the "tri-state" tornado of 18 March 1925, which travelled 352 km through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, leaving 695 dead and 2,027 injured.