National Geographic: Cyclone!


This is the bottom of the ocean

- an ocean of air as vast and

volatile as any sea.

Above the earth's surface,

currents ebb and flow.

Some spiral into whirlwinds.

The dust devil has more bluster

than bite.

Other twisters are downright


Tornado on the ground

on highway 44!

Damage everywhere.

We've got numerous people


Get away from the windows!

Tree just blew over!

Get away from the windows!

Get away! Get away!

Tornadoes pack the fastest winds

on earth.

But in magnitude,

this spinning giant goes unmatched.

Hurricane, typhoon, cyclone

all equally fearsome.

By any name,

the greatest storms on earth.

Severe tropical storms afflict

every continent except Antarctica.

In this century, they have claimed

over half a million lives.

Tornadoes have killed over 10,000

in the United States alone.

Today, electronic eyes pierce

the atmosphere,

and map its shifting winds.

Scientists chart the anatomy

of a storm.

Their sensors record speed and


Make yours the same level

as the tripod.

But none can predict the birth

of a killer.

That thing's a right mover!

We gotta get out of here, fast!

Let's go!

Nothing in our power can stop the

fury of Nature's whirling winds.

Early spring, 1991.

A southern sun heats the waters

of the Gulf of Mexico.

Warm, moist air rises,

and travels northwest,

over Texas, Louisiana,

and on

toward the central United States.

More than a thousand miles away,

cool dry air rushes south

from Canada.

Rising over the Rockies,

dry upper level air flows east,

then spills onto the Great Plains.

These forces collide over Tornado

Alley on Friday, April 26th, 1991.

Fast winds high above the ground,

over slower winds below,

make the air roll horizontally,

like a pencil on a table top.

The atmosphere is unstable.

Thunderstorms erupt across

the plains.

Here and there, an updraft lifts

the horizontal spinning of the air

into a vertical position.

Now the storm rotates as it feeds

on warm, moist air near the ground.

The day gives rise to "supercells"

- the most complex and dangerous

thunderstorms on earth.

Their underbellies bubble with


Lightning and hail are the least

of their threats.

Under the right conditions,

they can also spawn monsters.

The National Weather Service

has tracked the warning signs

for a week,

predicting severe weather.

By April 26th, conditions are

text-book perfect

for a major outbreak of tornadoes.

Throughout the afternoon and

evening, across the central states,

fifty-six twisters are reported.

Honey, be careful.

Is it going away from us?



Is it going away from us?

I sure hope you're right.

Then, at 5:

a killer touches down in Kansas.

In Wichita,

residents are sitting down to dinner

when warnings send them running

to basements and storm shelters.

Look at this stuff

floating in the air, Ginger.

Take cover!

Around 6:
20, the tornado takes

on a pinkish hue

as it pulverizes a nursery full

of geraniums.

By the time it hits McConnell Air

Force Base,

the twister is nearly

The base hospital, school,

rec center

and over a hundred housing units

are leveled.

the town siren fails,

but most residents heed warnings

by police, and news reports.

The tornado's funnel has widened

to almost 600 feet.

At 6:
40, it tears through the

Golden Spur Mobile Home Park.

The twister finally dissipates

northeast of Andover.

Within minutes, its parent storm

drops another funnel

along the Kansas Turnpike.

Can you get in the left lane, Greg?


I'll like you know this go away.

You're okay, you're okay.

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    "National Geographic: Cyclone!" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 19 Jan. 2021. <!_14528>.

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