Cultural significance of tornadoes
Tornado damage to human-made structures is a result of the high wind velocity and windblown debris. Tornadic winds have been measured in excess of 300 mph (480 km/h). Tornadoes are a serious hazard to life and limb. As such, people in tornado-prone areas often adopt plans of action in case a tornado approaches.
Tornadoes in society
Storm cellars are often used as a means of shelter in case of tornadoes or tropical cyclones. Common in tornado-prone areas, they have been around for more than 100 years—even referenced in the famous 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Consisting either of a simple underground room, or an elaborate above-ground bunker, they are usually small rooms, designed to keep debris from entering and causing injury. When properly constructed, they can survive an EF5 tornado. While it is unknown how many lives have been saved by storm cellars, the number is undoubtedly high.
Some individuals and hobbyists, known as storm chasers, enjoy pursuing thunderstorms and tornadoes to explore their many visual and scientific aspects. Attempts have been made by some storm chasers from educational and scientific institutions to drop probes in the path of oncoming tornadoes in an effort to analyze the interior of the storms, but only about five drops have been successful since around 1990.
Due to the relative rarity and large scale of destructive power that tornadoes possess, their occurrence or the possibility that they may occur can often create what could be considered sensationalism in their reporting. This results in so-called weather wars, in which competing local media outlets, particularly TV news stations, engage in continually escalating technological one-upsmanship and drama in order to increase their market share. This is especially evident in tornado-prone markets, such as those in the Great Plains.
According to Environment Canada, the chances of being killed by a tornado are 12 million to 1 (12,000,000:1). One may revise this yearly and/or regionally, but the probability may be factually stated to be low. Regardless, tornadoes cause millions of dollars in damage, both economic and physical, many deaths, and hundreds of injuries every year. The tornado has been used by cartoonists for over 100 years as a metaphor for political upheaval. The storm cellar has also been used as a metaphor for seeking safety, as shown in the cartoon from 1894 at right.
According to political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the tornado takes Dorothy to a utopia, the Land of Oz, and kills the Wicked Witch of the East, who had oppressed "the little people", the Munchkins.
Numerous athletic teams across the United States employ a tornado for their mascot. There are 123 high schools, colleges, and professional sports teams that use "Tornados," or a variant, as their team nicknames. Another 71 teams use "Cyclones" (a common colloquialism for "tornado" in parts of the U.S.) or a form thereof.
Motion pictures with a tornado theme
- The Wizard of Oz, 1939
- Twister (1989 film)
- Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, 1990
- Night of the Twisters (1996), the first original motion picture made for The Family Channel loosely based on the Ivy Ruckman book of the same name
- Tornado!, a made-for-TV movie starring Bruce Campbell and Shannon Sturges, released on May 7, 1996
- Twister (1996 film)
- Storm Chasers: Revenge of the Twister, a 1998 made-for-TV movie
- Atomic Twister (TV), 2001
- The Day After Tomorrow, 2004
- Category 7: The End of the World, 2005
- Perfect Disaster: Super Tornado (Discovery Channel), premiered on March 19, 2006
- Tornado Glory (PBS), 2006
- NYC: Tornado Terror, 2008 movie
- Blown Away (song), 2012 Carrie Underwood's music video features a tornado
- "Shelter weathers deadly Okla. tornadoes". USA Today. 2005-05-20. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
- Data from the Storm Prediction Center archives, which are accessible through SeverePlot, free software created and maintained by John Hart, lead forecaster for the SPC.
- Environment Canada (2004). "Tornadoes". Retrieved 2007-01-17.
- Quentin P. Taylor (2004-12-02). "Money and Politics in the Land of Oz". The Independent Institute. Retrieved 2006-10-24. External link in
- "Ajax washing liquid". Retrieved 2007-01-25.
- "Team Mascots". Retrieved February 12, 2015.