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Tornadoes Tornadoes are the most violent of all atmospheric events A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air attached to a thunderstorm and in contact with the ground In the most intense tornadoes winds approach 290 miles an hour Those winds exact a terrible toll on texas each year including an average of 15 deaths nearly 200 injuries and many more people left homeless From 1916-1993 over 1100 texans have lost their lives due to tornadoes From 1950-1993 approximately 5300 tornadoes have been reported throughout the state or about 120 tornadoes each Seventy percent are reported from march through june Most tornadoes occur during the late afternoon and early evening hours however tornadoes can form any time of the year day or night The lifespan of a tornado can be anywhere from a few seconds to over an hour They may remain on the ground for a few yards or for nearly 100 miles most tornadoes move from southwest to northeast at an average speed of 30 miles an hour However tornadoes can move at speeds up to 70 miles an hour or they can remain nearly stationary There are three broad classifications of tornadoes based on their intensity These categories are weak strong and violent Average statistics for these categories are given below Eighty-five percent of all tornadoes will be classified as weak tornadoes usually cover less 3 miles on the ground and will last only a few minutes Their average path width is only 100 feet or so They have winds up to 120 miles an hour and can cause significant damage and casualties Fifteen percent of tornadoes fall into the strong category Strong tornadoes are usually about 14 mile wide with winds up to 200 miles an hour They can be in contact with the ground for 15-20 minutes and most have path lengths up to 30 miles Less than two percent
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