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Sample Essay “The Detection System of Tornadoes”

twister tornadoTornadoes are one of the most picturesque and unusual weather phenomena in existence; however, people are generally interested in them not because of their peculiar shapes and behaviors, but due to the extreme destruction often caused by these violently rotating columns of air. In the year 2015 alone there were 551 fatalities caused by tornadoes registered worldwide.

The last year’s unusually high death count speaks all too eloquently in favor of better tornado detection systems, as the majority of these deaths (442) happened in a single and easily avertable catastrophe, the sinking of a Chinese cruise liner Dong Fang Zhi Xing. This tragedy happened exactly because the ship in question was either not informed about the impending tornado or because its crew didn’t take the necessary precautions.

This incident shows how incredibly important it is to not only be able to detect tornadoes in their early stages, but also get it into the heads of people that tornado detection and alerts are a serious business.

The history of tornado detection is relatively young – prior to 1950s the only way to detect a tornado was to see it with your own eyes, which didn’t go far in preventing deaths and damage. However, the invention of weather radar considerably improved the situation, allowing local weather offices to issue warnings about impending tornadoes beforehand.

There isn’t much people can do to deal with tornadoes except get out of the way, but in most cases it turns out to be enough – although property damage can be quite high from time to time, it is preferable to losing lives.

Today meteorologists have an impressive arsenal of tools at their disposal, the three most important ones being storm spotters, pulse-Doppler radars and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites.

Storm spotters are people, some government employees, private citizens, who have undergone special training and are instructed to look for signs of possible tornadoes and storms during the periods of severe weather.

Pulse-Doppler radars (including mobile “Dopplers on wheels”) are radars capable of detecting the conditions that are likely to result in formation of tornadoes. Satellites cover most densely populated areas and also make a considerable contribution into predicting tornadic storms.

All in all, humanity has made a great progress in its ability to prevent most harm caused by tornadoes; however, the research in the inner workings of this phenomenon goes on and can lead to further discoveries in its course.


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  • Edwards, Roger et al. “A Simple and flexible method for ranking severe weather events.” Wea. Forecasting 21:939-951. Print
  • Edwards, Roger et al. “Tornado Intensity Estimation: Past, Present and Future.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society May 2013: 641-653. Print
  • Grazulis, Thomas P. The Tornado: Nature’s Ultimate Windstorm. University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. Print
    Knight, Meredith. “Fact or Fiction?: If the Sky Is Green, Run for Cover – A Tornado Is Coming.” Scientific American. Jun. 14 2007
  • Perkins, Sid. “Tornado Alley, USA.” Science News 161:296-298. Print
  • Seymour, Simon. Tornadoes. New York City, 2001. Print

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