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155558.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:48 am Reply with quote

As Bunter posted on the DVD forum:

Question: Which country has the highest tornado intensity in the world?

Answer: The UK.

The Fujita Scale, the standard tool for measuring tornados, was devised by the late Dr Ted Fujita of Chicago University – he was one of the world’s greatest authorities on tornados, and was nicknamed “Mr Tornado” by his contemporaries.

According to this scale, the most tornado-intense country in the world is the UK, who average 33 tornados a year. With an area some 38 times smaller than the US, this makes you twice as likely to witness a twister here than in the states.

Last edited by Flash on Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:25 am; edited 1 time in total

155562.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:58 am Reply with quote

This was all kicked off in a thread called "Weather-related Gen Ig" in the Forum of General Ignorance, which starts at post 98252.

Some snippets from there:

21 November 1981
104 tornadoes whip Britain. This is the most tornadoes to have hit any county in Europe in one day


The reason for the UK being so good for tornadoes is that we are usually directly under the jet stream which plays an important role in the formation of tornadoes.

Tornadoes in the UK are often associated with a phenomena called explosive cyclogenesis (i.e. when a low pressure system deepens very quickly and suddenly). It is caused where rising columns of air (like a low pressure system) extend directly into the base of the jet stream. The strong wind of the jet stream acts to suck the air upwards from the ground (hence the falling pressure) in a similar way to when you blow over an empty glass bottle it creates a sound (the air being sucked out creates a vacuum that pulls the air back in at high speed causing it to resonate and create the sound).

Explosive cyclogenesis is difficult to forecast and was responsible for the 1987 Great Storm (hence the reason why Mr Fish didn't forecast the severity of the storm in that year) and was probably responsible for the 1953 storm that flooded the East coast of England and much of the Netherlands causing thousands of deaths. ...

One of the most interesting things about tornadoes and especially waterspouts is the stuff they suck up into the storms and can then fall back to the ground many miles away. Instances of frogs and fish falling from the sky are very common (caused when a waterspout passes over a schoal of fish or a pond). Stories of cattle and other animals falls from the sky exist as well. A story I heard in one of the many documentaries on tornadoes (they've gone out of fashion now for docus on global warming and such) is of a man being sucked into the sky in a tornado and his body being taken to the top of the cloud where it froze and became coated in ice like a hail stone (convection within a storm is plenty strong enough to do this) before it fell to the ground much later. One tornado in the US turned pink when it ripped through a greenhouse filled with red flowers.

(grizzly, no sources cited, but a link to for the raining animals).

155563.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:08 am Reply with quote

On 7 Dec 2006 a tornado flattened one house in Kensal Rise, north-west London, and damaged 150 others, 20 of which were declared uninhabitable.

The great tornado of 8 Dec 1954 hit Chiswick in west London; a massive conical cloud hung down from the sky, green lightning flashing from its sides, and there was a deafening roar described as being like an express train. It razed Gunnersbury station to the ground before demolishing two nearby factories and then moving on to Acton, Willesden and finally Golders Green, leaving a swathe of devastation behind it (a journalist writes).

s: Fortean Times 219, Times and BBC News, 7th & 8th Dec, Daily Telegraph & Independent, 8th Dec 2006

155564.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:13 am Reply with quote

Fish and cattle falling from the skies has to have comedy potential, doesn't it?

Fred, maybe one for the Gen Ig section of the show that has lightning in it?

155565.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:19 am Reply with quote

I suppose the fudge in the question at the top of the thread is that the US is a very large country, in much of which there are no tornadoes at all. Presumably the UK doesn't have a higher concentration of tornadoes than Tornado Alley does? Here's the wiki:

The United States has the most tornadoes of any country, seeing about four times the activity estimated in all of Europe (not including waterspouts). This is mostly due to the unique geography of the continent. North America is a relatively large continent that extends from the tropical south into arctic areas, and has no major east-west mountain range to block air flow between these two areas. This unique topography allows for many collisons of warm and cold air; creating the conditions necessary to breed strong, long-lived storms which occur many times a year. A large portion of these tornadoes form in an area of the central United States known as Tornado Alley. This area extends into Canada, particularly Ontario and the Prairie Provinces. The Netherlands has the highest average number of recorded tornadoes per area of any country (more than 20 annually), followed by the UK (around 50 per year), but most are small and result in minor damage. The UK experiences more tornadoes than any other European country.

That contradicts our conclusion even in the terms in which we phrase it; might not be right, of course.

155570.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 5:12 am Reply with quote

I posted that Tornado fact originally, but it seems to have been deleted now.

I would have thought that I would have included a source with it.

155571.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 5:20 am Reply with quote

In global terms, the US leads the list, with an average of over 1000 tornadoes recorded each year. A distant second is Canada, with around 100 recorded per year. Other locations that experience frequent tornadoes include northern Europe, western Asia, Bangladesh, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The UK has more tornadoes, relative to its land area, than any other country, though most British tornadoes are relatively weak.

New Scientist

155590.  Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:09 am Reply with quote

James, I can't find your original post either, but this is the source that Jenny posted:

Good to have back-up from the New Scientist also.

Ian Dunn
1340580.  Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:27 pm Reply with quote

I was listening to "The Unbelievable Truth" today, and in tonight's episode they said that it was the Netherlands that had the most tornados in the world rather than the UK.

Now, one of them has to be wrong. Whether QI has to correct themselves or you are going to take more points of David Mitchell remains to be seen.


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