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In this article the Why Files examines tornadoes. Topics covered include: what tornadoes are, where they get their energy, the latest word on prediction, how to protect yourself, and how tornadoes affect the natural landscape. A May 1999 update briefly describes the damage from a swarm of huge tornadoes (or twisters), which ripped through Oklahoma and Kansas, killing 43 and destroying thousands of houses. A quiz is included as well as some references and links. Six people (meteorologists and other scientists) were interviewed for this article.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Intermediate (3-5)
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
  • General public
Type of resource:
  • Text:
    • Glossary
    • Index / Bibliography
    • Report
  • Atmospheric science
  • Natural hazards
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Site copyright 2001, University of Wisconsin, Board of Regents.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-001-083
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 5-8:
      • B - Physical science:
        • Transfer of energy
      • F - Science in personal / social perspectives:
        • Natural hazards
    • 9-12:
      • B - Physical science:
        • Conservation of energy and increase in disorder
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Energy in the earth system
      • F - Science in personal / social perspectives:
        • Natural and human-induced hazards
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Author: David Tenenbaum
The Why Files

Editor: Terry Devitt
The Why Files

Contributor: Yael Gen
The Why Files

Contributor: Amy Toburen
The Why Files

Publisher: University of Wisconsin- Madison, Graduate School