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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... tornadoes and their debris.


CURWOOD: June is tornado month. With little or no warning, a tornado can suck up everything in its path. But where does all that stuff get spit back out? Since 1994, the Norman, Oklahoma-based Tornado Debris Project has been tracking the payloads of these mercurial storms, and has come up with some pretty incredible findings. For example, the current record for distance traveled goes to a canceled check from Stockton, Kansas. After a 1991 tornado, the check was found in Winetoon, Nebraska, 230 miles away. But larger things can travel, too. Bricks. Telephone books. Even sacks of flour have ended up 50 miles from their point of origin. One Mississippi resident found a freezer more than a mile from where it started. By analyzing information like this, the scientists in Norman are developing models of tornado debris fallout, and they hope for a better understanding of tornado aerodynamics.

(Music up and under from The Wizard of Oz)

CURWOOD: So far, though, they haven't been able to link the deaths of any witches to falling farm houses. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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