LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Students in Arkansas will be continuing their education online and through AMI Days for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a hard time for everyone, so the Arkansas Storm Team wants to do something to help! We will be providing a weekly weather education lesson, teaching students about a specific topic and showing how to create a fun science experiment at home.

This week’s lesson is all about tornadoes! Before we get to the experiment, let’s cover some informational facts about tornadoes.

Did You Know?

  • Tornadoes can be called twisters or even cyclones.
  • On average, over 1,000 tornadoes are confirmed every year in the United States.
  • The highest wind speed recorded from a tornado is 336 mph. That was from an EF-5 tornado in Oklahoma.
  • On Average, there are 33 tornadoes in Arkansas per year.

In Arkansas, the peak severe weather season occurs during March, April and May. A secondary severe weather season can also happen in late fall towards early winter. However, it’s important to note that tornadoes are possible any time in the year.

How Tornadoes Form:

  • At ground level, surface winds are one speed. In the higher levels of the atmosphere, the wind speed is stronger.
  • A chance in wind speed with elevation creates a spinning column of air.
  • Thunderstorms will form and interact with the spinning column of air, injecting it. This is called a thunderstorm’s updraft.
  • When the updraft becomes strong and verticle, the column of air gets even faster.
  • A wall cloud forms first, funnel cloud second and when the funnel touches the ground – then you have a tornado!
  • The type of tornado cannot be determined until after the storm is over. The National Weather Service will survey damage and estimated wind speeds to decide the rating of the tornado.

Arkansas Tornado Climatology

  • From 1950-2019, there were 1,882 tornadoes in the state.
    EF0 – 524
    EF1 – 746
    EF2 – 427
    EF3 – 157
    EF4 – 28
    EF5 – 0
  • 2020 so far: 18 tornadoes, 10 alone in January.

Do you know the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?

  • Tornado Watch: there are ingredients in the atmosphere that are favorable for tornado development. Watches are issued hours in advance and can cover multiple counties and states.
  • Tornado Warning: a tornado is happening or may form imminently. Take shelter immediately.

How to Receive Severe Weather Alerts:

  • You need to have at least 3 ways to get severe weather alerts in case power goes out.
  • TV, cell phone or mobile devices, NOAA weather radio, regular radio.

Tornado Safety: Where to go during a tornado warning.

  • Basement or storm shelter.
  • Closet, bathtub, hallway, under stairs.
  • Put as many walls between you and outside as you can.
  • Stay away from windows and doorways.
  • Protect yourself using any kind of helmet, pillows or blankets.


What you’ll need:

  • 2, 2 liter bottles with labels removed
  • Duct tape or a washer


  • Fill one of the bottles up half way with water. (Optional – Add a little glitter or food coloring.)
  • Use the washer or duct tape to connect the bottles together, opening to opening.
  • Flip the bottles over so that the bottle with water is on top.
  • Quickly spin the bottle and watch the tornado form in the top bottle as water drops into the bottom bottle.
  • In this experiment, you can change the direction of the spin, stop the tornado or start the tornado. You have no power doing such to a real tornado.

Be sure to check back next Wednesday for another Weather Fix Wednesday lesson!