Segments in this Video

Introduction: Twisters and Weird Weather: The World's Worst Disasters (02:03)


Tornadoes are violent natural disasters that flatten buildings, uproot trees, and flip cars. Tornadoes can cause injuries, homelessness, and death. Tornadoes can destroy everything in their path, but a few tornadoes throughout history have caused more destruction than most.

Deadliest Tornado in History (03:05)

Tornadoes are extremely destructive and can tear apart entire cities. On April 26, 1989 a tornado tore through the Manikganj District of Bangladesh, killing an estimated 1,300 people and leaving 80,000 homeless. The tornado was more destructive because of the extreme poverty and drought the area had been suffering, and Daulatpur and Saturia were completely devastated.

Classification of Tornadoes (03:48)

Tornadoes can be classified in many different ways, but they are all extremely dangerous. A water spout, the classification of a tornado that forms over water, can pick up water and aquatic life and drop it far away from the water. The Tay Bride disaster in 1879 was a train bridge collapse that was thought to have been caused by a water spout.

1999 Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak (02:25)

80% of the world's tornadoes occur in North America, and most are in the Great Plains of the United States, known as Tornado Alley. Tornado alley is the perfect breeding ground for tornadoes, with the ground sloping slightly from the west to the east allowing warm air from the Gulf of Mexico to collide with cold air from the Rocky Mountains and Canada. In 1999 Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Tennessee, were hit by a tornado outbreak that would later become known as the most expensive tornado outbreak in America.

Most Expensive Tornado Outbreak in America (03:42)

When the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak hit it was clear that it was going to be a big storm with multiple tornadoes. Over 21 hours 66 tornadoes touched down, with one F-5 tornado that tore through Chickasha, Oklahoma. This tornado outbreak was the most expensive tornado outbreak in US history, with damages estimated at 1.9 billion dollars.

Fujita Rating (01:50)

The Fujita scale was created in 1971 by Tetsuya Fujita to determine the intensity of a tornado. Determining the exact intensity of the tornado was difficult because it was impossible to measure the speed on the winds. The Fujita scale measures the amount of damage within the tornadoes path, and uses that measurement to determine the speed of the winds.

Surviving an F-5 Tornado (03:27)

Survival is possible even in the direct path of an F-5 tornado. Debbie La France and her daughter, Kristin, survived the Jarrell tornado by climbing into a bathtub, but her husband, who was on the ground next to them, did not survive. The Jarrell tornado, a part of the 1997 Central Texas tornado outbreak, was considered by many experts to be the most violent tornado they had ever seen in terms of damage intensity.

Tri-State Tornado (02:56)

The Tri-State tornado is known as the most deadly tornado in US history, killing to 695 people and devastating parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Illinois was hit the hardest of the three states and had whole towns leveled and saw about 600 killed. The Tri-State tornado was an F-5 tornado that caused 50 times more destruction than most tornadoes.

Tornado Forecasting (02:47)

Tornado forecasting has become close to an exact science, and warnings are issued for large areas telling of the dangers. A computer simulation is created with storm factors incorporated to get a better idea of the danger. Tornado spotters drive around looking for tornadoes, with the primary objective to keep everyone safe and the secondary objective to get video of the tornado.

Tornado Spotter Danger (02:43)

A tornado spotter describes his close brush with death while doing his job. He got too close to the tornado and took cover with a woman and her kids for safety, but her house lifted off the ground and sucked in a tree. The tree landed on the woman and children, but then the house was lifted up again, this time it landed on his pelvis, crushing it.

1979 Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak (02:40)

Technology is able to take away a lot of tornado dangers by giving people proper time to take cover, but it is not always possible to give enough warning. The Wichita Falls tornado, a part of the 1979 Red River Valley tornado outbreak, left people with only seconds to take cover from the incoming tornado and consequently killed 42. Hear from a survivor of a Wichita Falls tornado, who was working in a bank and managed to make it to the vault just before the tornado hit.

1979 Super Outbreak (01:52)

The 1974 Super Outbreak saw 148 tornadoes touch down over 13 states in 24 hours, killing 330. The tornado that struck Xenia, Ohio was the single deadliest tornado of this outbreak, killing 32 and destroying a large part of the town.

Dangers of Tornadoes (03:04)

Flash floods are commonly a problem, and kill many in places not set up for immense rain over a short period of time. Hailstones can be the size of grapefruits. The most dangerous part of tornadoes is flying debris that can strike and kill anyone who is outside.

Tornadoes in Britain (02:00)

The most tornado stricken country in Europe gets about 330 tornadoes a year. On December 8, 1954 a tornado struck Gunnersbury, killing none. Almost exactly 52 years later on December 7, 2006 a tornado hit the town of Kendal Rise, shocking residents.

Atmospheric Vortex Engine (03:15)

Tornadoes have been known to hurl items from the ground hundreds of miles from where they started. A water spout in Australia picked up fish and rained it back down 200 miles away. Scientist Louis Michaud created an atmospheric vortex engine that creates a man-made tornado that uses industrial waste to produce energy.

Thrill Seekers (03:46)

Thrill seekers can now take a 'vacation' chasing tornadoes. A group of highly trained storm chasers and meteorologists guide trips that can last up to 10 days. Tornadoes are incredibly dangerous, but with the technology of the 21st century it is becoming easier to predict and avoid these disasters.

Credits: Twister and Weird Weather: The World's Worst Disasters (00:33)

Credits: Twister and Weird Weather: The World's Worst Disasters

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Twisters and Weird Weather: The World's Worst Disasters

Part of the Series : The World's Worst Disasters
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Tornadoes are one of nature’s deadliest forces, unmatched in fury, speed and destructive power. Over the centuries, tornadoes have wrought destruction on a huge scale and cost a great many lives. This program takes a look at some of the most devastating twister storms to hit the planet in the last 100 years. From the world’s worst twister (which struck Daultipur in Bangladesh in 1989), to the most expensive tornado in history (the 1999 Oklahoma Tornado which caused $1.4 billion worth of damage), this program explores tornadoes through extraordinary footage and remarkable true stories from those who have survived. Discover how tornadoes are formed in super cell thunderstorms and how meteorologists use science to save lives, predicting twister attacks before they happen. Learn how 21st-century technology aids our understanding of this extreme weather phenomenon, and meet the storm-chasers who thrill at getting up close and personal with tornadoes. This journey into the swirling heart of the tornado reveals the raw power and awesome, deadly, beauty of nature at its most ferocious.

Length: 47 minutes

Item#: BVL95246

ISBN: 978-1-68272-349-4

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

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