Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Tornado Duration
Name: Amy
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: IN
Country: N/A
Date: 11/21/2005


Question:
How long to tornados usually last?


Replies:
Based on the length of the touch-down paths of tornados, a tornado touch-down can last for seconds to many minutes. "How long" also depends upon whether one is referring to a single funnel with/without touching land, or the entire storm cell that can last for hours as a storm front moves often hundreds of miles.

Vince Calder


Dear Amy-

The lifetime of a tornado can be very short, like less than one minute, or it can be very long. On rare occasions tornadoes can last several hours. One of the most deadly tornados in U.S. history was the Tri-State tornado in March 1925. The tornado track was 219 miles long and the tornado lasted for 3 1/2 hours. 695 people were killed and more than 15,000 homes destroyed. Here is a link that describes that tornado.

http://www.semp.us/biots/biot_191.html

Here are some other links that describe tornadoes and typical characeristics.

http://www.stormfax.com/fujita.htm

http://www.tornadoproject.com/toptens/1.htm#top

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO


Amy,

Tornados can last just a few seconds (on the ground) to many hours, depending on the strength and longevity of the thunderstorm from which it forms. However, the average tornado lasts only about 10 to 30 minutes.

David R. Cook
Climate Research Section
Environmental Science Division
Argonne National Laboratory


Click here to return to the Weather Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory