Tornadoes are violent rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. They can cause devastating damage to anything in their path, such as buildings, vehicles, trees, and power lines. Tornadoes are a global phenomenon, but some countries experience them more frequently than others. In this article, we will explore the top 10 countries with the most tornadoes in the world, based on the average number of tornadoes per year or per area.
Top 10 Countries with the Most Tornadoes
1. United States
The United States is the undisputed leader in tornado frequency, with an average of 1,150 to 1,200 tornadoes every year. That is several times higher than the second-place country, Canada, and more than the rest of the world combined. The United States has a unique geography that favors the formation of tornadoes, especially in the central region known as Tornado Alley. Here, warm and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico meets cold and dry air from Canada and the Rocky Mountains, creating unstable conditions that spawn powerful thunderstorms and tornadoes. The United States also has the most advanced tornado detection and warning system in the world, which helps to track and report tornadoes more accurately than other countries. The strongest tornado ever recorded was an EF5 tornado that hit El Reno, Oklahoma, on May 31, 2013, with a wind speed of 301 mph (484 km/h).
Canada ranks second in tornado frequency, with an average of about 100 tornadoes per year. Most of them occur in the southern regions of Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, where warm and humid air from the United States clashes with cooler air from the north. Canada also has a large land area that increases the chances of tornado formation. However, Canada’s tornadoes are generally weaker and less destructive than those in the United States, with only a few reaching EF3 or higher on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The deadliest tornado in Canadian history was an F4 tornado that struck Regina, Saskatchewan, on June 30, 1912, killing 28 people and injuring hundreds more.
England may not seem like a likely place for tornadoes, but it actually has the highest number of tornadoes per area of any country in the world. Between 1980 and 2012, England experienced 2.2 tornadoes per year per 10,000 square kilometers (3,861 square miles), which equates to one per every 4,545 square kilometers (1,754 square miles). Most of England’s tornadoes occur in the southeast region, especially along the River Thames in London’s Tornado Alley. However, England’s tornadoes are usually weak and short-lived, with only a few reaching F2 or higher on the original Fujita scale. The most damaging tornado in England’s history was an F4 tornado that hit Birmingham on December 14, 2005, injuring 19 people and causing £40 million ($55 million) worth of damage.
4. New Zealand
New Zealand is another country that has a high number of tornadoes per area, with about 20 waterspouts and tornadoes occurring per year. Most of them appear on the North Island of the country, where warm and moist air from the Tasman Sea meets cold and dry air from the Southern Alps. The west coast of Taranaki is one of the hotspots for tornadoes in New Zealand, as it has been struck 12 times from 1961 to 1975. However, most of New Zealand’s tornadoes are weak waterspouts that do not cause much damage to land. The deadliest tornado in New Zealand’s history was an F3 tornado that hit Hobsonville on December 6, 2012, killing three people and injuring seven others.
Japan is a country that has seen an increase in tornado frequency in recent years, with an average of around 20 tornadoes per year. Japan’s tornadoes are mostly associated with typhoons or tropical cyclones that bring warm and moist air from the Pacific Ocean to the island nation. Japan’s most vulnerable areas to tornadoes are Hokkaido Island in the north and Honshu Island in the south. Japan’s most destructive tornado was an F3 tornado that struck Saroma on Hokkaido Island on November 7, 2006, killing nine people and injuring dozens more.
Australia is a country that has many misconceptions about its tornado activity. Contrary to popular belief, Australia does have many tornadoes, with about 16 per year excluding waterspouts which are very common along its coasts. The southwestern coast of Western Australia is one of the hotspots for tornadoes in Australia, where cold fronts from the Indian Ocean interact with warm and humid air from the continent. The Lennox Head village of New South Wales is another area that is prone to tornadoes in Australia. Australia’s deadliest tornado was an F4 tornado that hit Kin Kin, a town near southeast Queensland, on November 19, 1971, killing three people and injuring 19 others.
India is a country that has experienced some of the strongest and most violent tornadoes in the world over the past 200 years. Most of India’s tornadoes occur in the delta region of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, where warm and moist air from the Bay of Bengal meets cold and dry air from the Himalayas. India’s tornado season coincides with its monsoon season, which lasts from June to September. India’s most deadly tornado was an F5 tornado that hit Daulatpur-Saturia on April 26, 1989, killing 1,300 people and injuring 12,000 others. It is considered the deadliest single tornado in history.
Bangladesh is a country that shares the same delta region with India and also suffers from frequent and deadly tornadoes. Bangladesh has an average of six tornadoes per year, but they are often very intense and destructive due to the high population density and poor infrastructure of the country. Bangladesh’s tornado season also coincides with its monsoon season, which lasts from March to November. Bangladesh’s most deadly tornado was an F4 tornado that hit Manikganj on May 13, 1996, killing 700 people and injuring 32,000 others.
Italy is a country that has a moderate number of tornadoes, with about five per year. Most of Italy’s tornadoes occur in the northern regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Piedmont, where cold air from the Alps meets warm and moist air from the Mediterranean Sea. Italy’s tornado season lasts from October to March, with a peak in November and December. Italy’s most destructive tornado was an F4 tornado that hit Venice on June 12, 1970, injuring 30 people and causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
France is a country that has a low number of tornadoes, with about three per year. Most of France’s tornadoes occur in the northern regions of Normandy, Brittany, Picardy, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais, where cold air from the Atlantic Ocean meets warm and moist air from the Mediterranean Sea. France’s tornado season lasts from May to September, with a peak in July and August. France’s most deadly tornado was an F4 tornado that hit Hautmont on August 3, 2008, killing four people and injuring 18 others.
Tornadoes are fascinating and terrifying natural phenomena that can occur in many countries around the world. Some countries have more tornadoes than others due to their geographic location, climate, and atmospheric conditions. The United States is the country with the most tornadoes in the world by far, followed by Canada and England. However, other countries such as India and Bangladesh have experienced some of the deadliest and most violent tornadoes in history. Tornadoes are unpredictable and dangerous events that require careful monitoring and preparedness to minimize their impact on human lives and property.
Most Asked Questions and Answers
Q: What is the difference between a tornado and a waterspout?
A: A tornado is a rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground, while a waterspout is a rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm or a cumulus cloud to the surface of a body of water. Waterspouts are usually weaker than tornadoes but can still pose a threat to boats and coastal areas.
Q: What causes a tornado to form?
A: A tornado forms when warm and moist air rises rapidly in an unstable atmosphere under a strong vertical wind shear. This creates a horizontal rotation within a thunderstorm cloud that can be tilted vertically by rising air currents. When this rotation reaches the ground, it becomes visible as a funnel cloud or a tornado.
Q: How are tornadoes measured?
A: Tornadoes are measured by their wind speed and their damage potential using two scales: the original Fujita scale (F0 to F5) or the Enhanced Fujita scale (EF0 to EF5). The Enhanced Fujita scale is more detailed and accurate than the original Fujita scale and is used by most countries today.
Q: What is the difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado?
A: A funnel cloud is a rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm cloud but does not touch the ground. A funnel cloud becomes a tornado when it reaches the ground or water surface.
Q: What is the difference between a watch and a warning?
A: A watch means that the conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form in a given area, while a warning means that a tornado has been detected or is imminent in a specific location. A watch is issued to alert people to be prepared and vigilant, while a warning is issued to urge people to take shelter and protect themselves.
Q: What is the safest place to be during a tornado?
A: The safest place to be during a tornado is in a sturdy building, preferably in a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor, away from windows and doors. If no building is available, the next best option is to lie flat in a low-lying area, such as a ditch or a culvert, and cover your head and neck with your arms or a coat. Never try to outrun a tornado in a car or seek shelter under a bridge or an overpass.
Q: What are the signs of a tornado?
A: Some of the signs of a tornado are:
- A dark, greenish sky
- A loud roar or rumble, similar to a freight train
- A wall cloud or a funnel cloud
- Flying debris or hail
- A sudden change in wind direction or speed
- A power outage or flashing lights
Q: What are the effects of a tornado?
A: A tornado can cause severe damage to anything in its path, such as:
- Uprooting trees and power lines
- Destroying buildings and vehicles
- Injuring or killing people and animals
- Creating fires and explosions
- Flooding roads and fields
- Scattering debris and pollutants
Q: How can I prepare for a tornado?
A: Some of the ways to prepare for a tornado are:
- Know the risk and the warning signs of tornadoes in your area
- Have an emergency plan and kit ready for you and your family
- Stay informed and alert by listening to the radio, TV, or internet for weather updates and alerts
- Identify and practice going to the safest place in your home, school, or workplace
- Secure loose items outside your home, such as patio furniture, trash cans, or bicycles
Q: How can I help after a tornado?
A: Some of the ways to help after a tornado are:
- Check on yourself and others for injuries and provide first aid if needed
- Stay away from damaged areas and follow the instructions of the authorities
- Report any hazards or damages to the appropriate agencies
- Donate blood, money, or supplies to relief organizations
- Volunteer your time or skills to assist with recovery efforts