In my daily newspaper, the Weather Wonk seems to have an obsession for tornado facts. I like it, as having lived through tornado warnings since childhood in Ohio, Texas twice, Delaware, California, Ohio again, Tennessee and Florida, I’m learning a lot about this weather phenomenon.


My mother was terrified of tornadoes and was sure it was the wrath of God descending upon our family. Fortunately, the ultimate deity gave us a break and unlike the Yellow Brick Road, passed over our small plot of land.

For the past six weeks, each day has a factoid about tornadoes, most of which I didn’t know. So, to enlighten you, Dear Readers, here is what I’ve learned!

Did you know, on May 6, 1975, a tornado near Omaha, Neb. Injured 133 people? Another record was broken when the highest temperature in the U.S. was 124 degrees at Salton, California. Can you imagine what 124 degrees felt like? I can’t, and hope to never experience that.

So, given the states I’ve lived in, which state would you be most likely to encounter a tornado? Remember the musical “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain?” Tornadoes there, with the plain being swept down is an average of six miles long!

West Texas is a close second and when I lived there, I spent many a night in the hallway under a table and surrounded by pillows and cushions. During the time I lived there, tornado warnings on the radio were so commonplace my next door neighbors mostly ignored them. Not I, knowing the most deadly and destructive storm hit the U.S. On May 7, 1840, and killed 340 people, I made sure to scoot to my tornado refuge!

tornado art

Often, a hail storm follows a tornado. A doozy of one, in fact the worst in history was in India, where baseball sized hail killed 246 people in 1888. Just in case, you might remember a tornado normally moves from Southwest to Northeast and averages 150 yards, though the width of a super-sized tornado can be up to one mile across, so be ready.

Now spring has sprung, keep in mind, May and June seem to be the months of most tornadoes, though I do recall them in August.

One last weather fact: The World’s Deadliest natural disaster is….. wait for it… not a tornado, but flooding – surprise!

Now you know, be ready, be safe. This is not the Land of Oz!