Nobody Would Like to Mess With

Keeping up with our latest knack for all things meteorological, we are being sucked into the territory of vortexes, waterspouts, funnel clouds and the five different stages of the Fujita scale. These are 10 photos of tornadoes nobody would like to cross their path with!

1. Caught in Action for the First Time


image source: www.loe.org

You have to agree that the rough vintage aesthetic only adds to the horrific nature of this spinning natural phenomena. This photo of a vicious and peculiarly symmetric tornadic formation was taken in 1884, about 22 miles west from Howard, South Dakota. The significance hides in the fact that this is the oldest known photograph of an active vortex. It is an evidental granddad of sorts that served as an inspiration for hordes of the early storm chasers (now imagine a fast-paced chase with an early Ford vehicle). This picture took place more than two centuries since the first recorded sighting of a tornadic twister was made by the Bay Colony governor John Winthrop in 1643 and almost four decades before the deadliest recorded tornado in US history, the “Tri-State Tornado” of 1925 that claimed the lives of 655 people. Time passes, tornadoes remain the same.

2. The Slim Reaper


image source: www.cbc.ca

Another chrestomathic photo of the twister in action, this one is another proof of the disturbing, yet strangely aesthetically pleasing appearance tornadoes can take on. Working against a red backdrop, the vortex seems like a sharp tusk descending from a pitch black sky to neatly level down whatever happens to be in its way. And don’t get fooled by the appearance! As it often happens with tornadoes, the slim ones can prove to be the most destructive types, boasting a concentrated gust at their very bottom. However, this was not the case. Even more, this is a beautiful example of an EF0 (the lowest and thus the weakest possible score on the Fujita scale) tornado doing nothing else but looking beautiful over the empty plains of Kansas.

3. A Tornado by J. M. W. Turner


image source: www.fastcompany.com

The yellowish pink shade of the sun-lit right side of the twister momentarily evokes associations with the works of the legendary British painter Joseph Mallord William Turner. Another coincidence is that Turner was keen to portray all kinds of natural and man-made cataclysms, all of them executed in a somewhat inappropriately beautiful and dreamy fashion. This tornado, however, really has a positive twist about it (no pun whatsoever)! During its rampage on May 24, 1973, scientists were finally able to observe a full life cycle of the spinning devil, thus opening doors to numerous innovations in the meteorological research and ensuring that we treat this weather phenomenon with the necessary precautions!

4. A Vague Terror


image source: www.tornadohistoryproject.com

Since we already played our “scenic tornado straight out of a painting” card on the previous entry, this one, despite absolutely begging for the comparison, will be strictly more informational. So the location is Texas, the year is 1995, and it’s the evening of June the 2nd. Despite looking like it was the last photo the storm chaser ever took, the monstrosity proved to be non-fatal even with its terrible potential evaluated to be a full-blown EF4 (a minute before the highest possible rating of EF5). Raving around the grounds of the city of Dimmit, it was closely observed by the Probe 1 Vortex team, and for some time, it was considered to be the most comprehensively observed tornado in history. The 90’s were, after all, a decade when storm chasing saw a new kind of appreciation.

5. Tall, Dark, and Handsome


image source: www.ustornadoes.com

Fresh from 2016, we have a great dusty twister near Ray, Colorado, captured on May 7. While not as great as a standalone photography, this one has a lot of interesting trivia surrounding it. Surprisingly, the state of Colorado (Denver to be more precise) boasts the highest tornado density in the whole country and recently has been included in the list of the most underrated regions for storm chasing in the US. However, these twisters are usually produced as a part of the so-called “High plains magic,” meaning that the tornadoes here are usually a result of the highly elevated plains and the natural air going up, thus contributing to the convection. This means that the tornadoes are usually very weak and formed by non-supercellular means. It is a paradise for extreme weather appreciators, so to speak. And what’s there to not love about our present day technological capacities? Here you can experience this particular tornado in a full 360!

6. Moody and Muggy


image source: wesharepics.info

For some rather odd reason, this low-res picture of a prominent vortex bears a kind of melancholy-inducing vibe. It’s another example of a tornado photography which might as well be a painting by the Texan twister enthusiast John Brosio, portraying not only a severe weather condition but also standing as a symbol for the impending doom in general. In a sense, it’s close to what the particular twister was representing in reality. Caught in May, 2013, in El Reno, Oklahoma, the twister, with its 2.6 mile diameter, is the widest tornado on record (to give you a perspective, the widest part of Manhattan is measured to be 2.3 miles). It also managed to completely shake the Fujita scale, reaching wind speeds of 295 mph, whereas the EF5 rating on the Fujita scale is usually applied to twisters barely exceeding the 200 mph barrier. All things considered, the photography is an image of a true danger!

7. The Invisible Part of the Iceberg


image source: tabuherbalsmoke.com

The photo of this tornadic formation is significant for its portrayal of the colossal upper mechanics that eventually make the downward spiral rotate. Okay, fortunately this time, the mechanics were kinda clumsy, therefore the resulting twister below was once again a mere EF1 eye-pleaser. Taken by the storm chasers Keith Brown and Bradd Illston, the photo portrays one of the minor cases of the 1998 tornado season in action. Keep in mind, though, that a cloud formation like this might swap to something more significant at some point in its lifespan even after a multitude of attempts. Supercells are not a thing to be underestimated!

8. Born to Run


image source: www.outsideonline.com

Though the addition of the Springsteen’s famous tune in the title only contributes to the ongoing romanticization of an evidently ruthless weather phenomena (the tornadoes, after all, were not subjected to a harsh social segregation of the 70’s New Jersey), it’s hard to deny the champagne pink hues make up for a lovely scenery. Little is known about this particular tornado, but the veil of secrecy only adds to to the wonderful mise en scène.

9. Rolling in the Deep


image source: www.bustle.com

A lone wolf of a tornado, this pleasantly pasty funnel was caught by the meteorologist and storm chaser Reed Timmer on May 25, 2016. Originally, it’s a video that reveals the nature of tornadoes in amazing detail that is largely due to the cameraman's pluck for consciously getting in a close-call situation. Aesthetically, it makes one wonder how incredibly well adjusted the hues can get. It seems like the vortex itself is just like a whirly mechanical brush descended to do some color mixing.

10. Oh No, We Didn’t...


image source: www.youtube.com

Here is the last one, and paradoxically, the one that has very little to do with an actual tornado. This is a waterspout, a metrological sibling of the tornado (from the family of dust devils, gustnado, and other whirl winds) which the general public loves to perceive simply as a tornado over a surface of water. That’s, however, entirely not true since the formation rules of both weather phenomena are very much different. The image lands here solely for its exquisite minimalism and the delicate sense of shape. Okay, this is not an interior design-related article, but the spout with its peculiar curvature is simply delightful. Keep in mind, though, that waterspouts are not stuff to joke with. The inner winds are still capable of nasty consequences, though not nearly as fatal as those of a tornado. This takes the cake solely for its legitimately artsy qualities!

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