20 Mind-Blowing Facts About The Largest Tornadoes In History

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Image: Justin Hobson

Tornadoes have been a source of fear for humans since the beginning of time. Indeed, this strange and powerful natural phenomenon has the potential to wreak destruction on a massive scale – and to leave hundreds dead or injured. However, as an extraordinary manifestation of extreme weather, they are also a subject of fascination. Here are some truly mind-boggling facts about the largest tornadoes to have ever been seen.

Image: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

20. Tornadoes emerge from massive thunderstorms

To create a scarily large tornado, the first thing that’s needed is a giant thunderstorm. The very largest thunderstorms actually have their own term – the supercell. Supercells are highly organized thunderstorms characterized by extreme rainfall, prolific lightening and gale-force winds. When the supercell sinks below the clouds it drags in colder air, creating the familiar tornado tower and sucking up air from the surface below it.

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Image: Twitter/Zaher Shaksy

19. Tornadoes often give off an advance warning

Sometimes supercells will give a telltale signature which meteorologists can read on radar. This is called the “hook echo” and it’s distinctive enough that even non-scientists can see it on a clear radar printout. The hook is formed by powerful counter-clockwise winds which drive rain in a circle around the air that’s being sucked up from the ground. Although not all hook echoes forewarn of a dangerous tornado, they are certainly something to watch out for.

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