Label: Tornadoes

January 30, 2013

Good morning, and welcome to Writing Wednesday!

Today we would like you to look at this photograph and take five minutes to have fun with creative writing.

Background: This is a photograph of a tornado sweeping across the Namib Desert in Namibia, a country in southwestern Africa. Isn’t it a gorgeous sight?

Your Assignment: Imagine you are in Africa, seeing this tornado, and describe this sight. Use lots of strong adjectives to help the scene come to life for your reader. What does it look like? Sound like? How would you feel if you were there in the desert?

When you are finished writing, you can click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post if you would like to share your writing for others to read.

Happy writing! 

 

Photo: Francesco Middei

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(28) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Weather, Tornadoes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 29, 2012

Caleb and Candra Pence had just said "I do" and were taking photographs when a tornado touched down miles away from their outdoor wedding ceremony in Harper, Kansas. The tornadoes were eight miles away, heading the other direction, so no one at the wedding was in danger.

"It’s just Kansas, it’s just who we are, it’s like wheat fields, cowboys and tornadoes; what more can you ask for?" said the groom’s mother, Carla Pence.

That is one unusual wedding picture, which is why it is our Cool Photo of the Week!

 

 

Photo: Cate Eighmey

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Weather, Tornadoes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 14, 2011

I was so pleased to receive a letter recently from Cam P, who just started second grade in New Jersey. Cam’s favorite book is one of mine - TORNADOES. So, he decided to write his own book on the subject, called TWISTERS. Nice job, Cam, and thank you for your letter!

What Cam did - writing a book inspired by one of his favorite authors - is something that writers often do. One of my favorite authors is named Rachel Carson, and when I read her book THE SEA AROUND US, I realized for the first time that I could be a writer.

So, Cam (and other students who love to read and write about nature) - keep writing! You, too, might turn out to be a published author one day.


 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Becoming a writer, Kids Write, Tornadoes, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 25, 2011

It was amazing to watch people emerging, unhurt, from their storm cellars as we were watching television news last night of the latest powerful Oklahoma tornadoes.

That got me thinking. What happens to all the animals when a tornado strikes?

  Rescuers searching for people trapped in the ruins often find animals, and say that frightened pets often wait until dark to sneak quietly out to look for their owners. In this photograph, taken after the devastating tornadoes that stuck in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, rescued kittens are waiting to be picked up their owners. More than 350 dogs, cats, birds, snakes, lizards and even a tarantula have already been found there.

 

 

 

Dogs also go to work alongside the rescuers when disaster strikes. In this photo, a live-find dog named ChicoDog searches for survivors in the wreckage of a public housing complex in Joplin, Missouri. His partner is Kathleen Kelsey, a canine rescue specialist with the Missouri Task Force One search-and-rescue team.

 

 

Kittens Photo: Dave Martin  /  AP

ChicoDog Photo: Mark Schiefelbein / AP


 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(8) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Cats, Dogs, Tornadoes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 24, 2011

There is no such thing as being completely safe inside a tornado. And this is a very bad year for tornadoes in the United States. So far, nearly 50 deadly tornadoes have touched down in the United States in 2011. That’s more than twice as much as the yearly average of killer tornadoes in years past. And it’s only May.

Photo: Charlie Riedel / AP

The deadliest tornado in nearly 60 years and the second major deadly twister in a month struck Joplin, Missouri on Monday, May 23. The half-mile-wide twister blasted through the Missouri town killing more than 100 people and leveling thousands of buildings. The devastation was so complete that the city’s south side has been nearly destroyed.

There’s not much that you can say about safety in a tornado that big and that strong. But MOST tornadoes are much weaker and CAN be survived. Listen to tornado forecasts and pay attention to the warnings.

Here are some things to look for before a tornado arrives:

  • The sky turns dark or greenish-black during the day.
  • Dust or debris whirls on the ground under a cloud.
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast wind shift.
  • Night: Small, bright flashes at ground level during a thunderstorm. This means power lines are being snapped by the winds.
  • Funnel-shaped clouds may appear-but not always.

 Here’s what to do:

  • In a house with a basement, avoid windows and go to the basement. 
  • Get under a workbench or heavy table. 
  • Cover your whole body with a mattress of sleeping bag.
  • KNOW where heavy objects are on the floor above (like a refrigerator) and don’t go under them. They may fall through the weakened floor.
  • In a house with no basement, avoid windows and go to the lowest floor to a small center room like a bathroom or closet. Cover yourself with some sort of padding.
  • In a large building, go to the center of the building on the lowest floor possible. Then crouch down and cover your head. Stay off elevators.
  • In a mobile home, get out! If your community has a tornado shelter, go there. Otherwise lie flat on the ground away from your home away from trees and cars. Cover your head with your hands.
  • At school, follow the drill. Get to an inside hall or room. Crouch low, head down with your arms over your head.
  • Cars and trucks are NOT safe during a tornado. Get out! Either seek shelter in a strong building or lie flat on the ground, face down, arms over your head.
 

Remember that the best protection from most tornadoes comes from receiving and acting upon an early warning and knowing what to do in advance.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Tornadoes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 25, 2010

Tornadoes were reported yesterday in Tennessee and Alabama, and a particularly destructive tornado struck Rice, Texas at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, destroying homes, turning over vehicles and knocking a railroad car right off the tracks, according to Navarro County Chief Deputy Mike Cox. Fortunately the only injuries were relatively minor, but also caused extensive damage to Rice Elementary School, which means it struck very close to home for local kids.

 Children who live in "Tornado Alley" (from Texas north to Nebraska) can learn what to do to protect themselves and their families. I’m going to reiterate some of what I’ve written previously on this subject, as well as answer some questions that kids are likely to ask. Giving elementary-age (and older) children information is the best way to offer reassurance and reduce anxiety.

 Why is this happening when it’s not "tornado season" (usually defined as April through July, with May and June being the peak months)? Like thunderstorms, tornadoes can form any time of the year.

 What is a tornado and why does it cause such destruction? A tornado’s funnel looks like a huge elephant’s trunk hanging down from a cloud. The funnel acts like a giant vacuum cleaner…whenever the "hose" touches the ground, it sucks things up into the air.

Usually, tornadoes are local storms. A typical tornado is only 400 to 500 feet wide, has winds of less than 112 miles per hour, and last only a few minutes. But sometimes, monster tornadoes a mile wide with winds up to 500 miles per hour are born in very large thunderstorms - also called supercells - and they can cause tremendous destruction. Tornadoes have moved houses down a whole block, bounced 20-ton tractor-trailers up and down on the highway, even picked up a pond full of frogs and rained them down on a nearby town!

If you live near an area that is prone to tornadoes at this time of year, the most important things to remember are:

*     Pay attention to early warning sirens and alerts on radio and television, so that you can take shelter before a tornado strikes.

*      Cars and mobile homes are NOT safe during a tornado. Go to the basement of a solidly built house.

 *     If you are in an apartment or home without a basement, getting into a bathtub and covering yourself with a couch cushion or a mattress protects you on all sides.

*     If you are out walking or biking, life flat in a ditch if there is no rain. If there is rain, there may be a danger of flash flooding, so stay out of the ditch, get away from trees and power lines, crouch down and make yourself as small as possible - be a "human basketball"!

You don’t have to worry too much in advance about tornadoes, but finding out when they are coming and knowing what to do is certain to help you if one strikes.     

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Weather, Tornadoes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 11, 2010

Tornado season can be a scary time for kids who live in affected areas. The last 24 hours have been deadly in Oklahoma, and thousands of people in Kansa and Oklahoma are still without power.

I wrote an extensive post recently about tornadoes, which you can still access online. And,  since giving kids a sense of what they can do to stay safe helps them to feel less frightened, I’d like to reiterate the key things for kids to know if they live in the southern plains, or in a place where tornadoes might strike.

** Pay attention to early warning sirens and alerts on radio and television, so that you can take shelter before a tornado strikes.

** Cars and mobile homes are NOT safe during a tornado. Go to the basement of a solidly built house.

** If you are in an apartment or home without a basement, getting into a bathtub and covering yourself with a couch cushion protects you on all sides.

** If you are out walking or biking, life flat in a ditch if there is no rain. If there is rain, there may be a danger of flash flooding, so stay out of the ditch, get away from trees and power lines, crouch down and make yourself as small as possible - be a "human basketball"!

Reassure children that they don’t have to worry too much in advance about tornadoes, but finding out when they are coming and knowing what to do is certain to help them if one strikes.   

 (Editor’s Note): For kids who want more information about storms, Seymour has also written a Level 2 SeeMore Reader called SUPER STORMS, which is also available in Spanish, titled TORMENTOS INCREíBLES.

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Weather, Tornadoes, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 23, 2010

Did you see the images on television last night of snowplows removing hail (not snow – HAIL!) from the highways in Colorado? And if you click here you’ll see video of a tornado that touched down in Texas last night.

There are strong thunderstorms predicted throughout this weekend in the Eastern two-thirds of the US, and Tornado Watches are in effect for communities that regularly experience these violent storms.

Why is all this happening at once? Well, it’s April, and that generally marks the beginning of the tornado season in the U.S.

A tornado’s funnel looks like a huge elephant’s trunk hanging down from a cloud. The funnel acts like a giant vacuum cleaner…whenever the “hose” touches the ground, it sucks things up into the air.

 Usually, tornadoes are local storms. A typical tornado is only 400 to 500 feet wide, has winds of less than 112 miles per hour, and last only a few minutes. But sometimes, monster tornadoes a mile wide with winds up to 500 miles per hour are born in very large thunderstorms – also called supercells – and they can cause tremendous destruction. Tornadoes have moved houses down a whole block, bounced 20-ton tractor-trailers up and down on the highway, even picked up a pond full of frogs and rained them down on a nearby town!

Photo Credit:  Howard Bluestein, Photo Researchers, Inc.
 

If you live near an area that is prone to tornadoes at this time of year, the most important things to remember are:

·      Pay attention to early warning sirens and alerts on radio and television, so that you can take shelter before a tornado strikes.

·      Cars and mobile homes are NOT safe during a tornado. Go to the basement of a solidly built house.

·      If you are in an apartment or home without a basement, getting into a bathtub and covering yourself with a couch cushion protects you on all sides.

·      If you are out walking or biking, life flat in a ditch if there is no rain. If there is rain, there may be a danger of flash flooding, so stay out of the ditch, get away from trees and power lines, crouch down and make yourself as small as possible - be a "human basketball"!

You don’t have to worry too much in advance about tornadoes, but finding out when they are coming and knowing what to do is certain to help you if one strikes.     

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Weather, Tornadoes, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)