Tornadoes are Georgia’s No. 1 weather-related killer, claiming 23 lives and causing $500 million in damage from 2008 to 2012. But just how much warning you receive before a tornado hits your home depends on where you live.
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THE TORNADO POWER SCALE
The Enhanced Fujita scale (EF scale) rates the power of tornadoes based on the damage they cause.
EF0 (65 mph to 85 mph)
EF1 (86 mph -110 mph)
EF2 (111 mph -135 mph)
EF3 (136 mph - 165 mph)
EF4 (166 mph - 200 mph)
EF5 (Over 200)
TORNADO DAMAGE IN GEORGIA
Number of tornadoes 17 67 13 68 86
Deaths 1 16 0 1 5
Damage $146 million $178 million $8 million $42 million $180 million
Most active month March (8) April (43) November (4) April (31) May (36)
2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
A team of reporters from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spent weeks surveying more than 30 cities and counties about emergency warning systems and found inconsistencies in the approach to warning residents. Reporters also consulted with local and national experts from around the country to dig deeper on the best practices for storm warnings in order to keep you safe and hold government accountable.
HOW A TORNADO IS BORN
Tornadoes form in Georgia in conditions similar to anywhere else.
It often starts with a collision of cold, dry air and warm, moist air, which can create a thunderstorm. The wind within a thunderstorm moves at different speeds, with wind higher in the storm usually moving faster. When the speed or direction of upper-level winds changes enough, it will create a rotating thunderstorm. This creates a rotating column of air.
This rotation will pull in air from below, which begins to roll. Once the rolling air begins to rise into the thunderstorm, it will tilt from horizontal to vertical. This action can cause a funnel cloud to develop.
A funnel cloud becomes a tornado when it makes contract with the ground.
Tornadoes can last from several seconds to more than an hour.