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The Discovery Files - "Twisted Twisters"

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The Discovery Files - "Twisted Twisters"

Credit: NSF/Clear Channel Communications/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Oh, Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!

I'm Bob Karson with "The Discovery Files" -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

Scientists studying tornado behavior have come up with some findings that may blow away traditional beliefs about tornado formation.

A team at Purdue has unraveled the data from 3800 tornadoes. It turns out that the conditions that cause tornadoes to form are a lot more varied than previously thought, especially outside "Tornado Alley," that frequently devastated stretch of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

The study challenges the belief that tornadoes usually form from single, isolated storm cells. In many cases, the researchers noted that tornadoes were spawned from larger "line" storms that can stretch for hundreds of miles... and occur under what had been considered "unusual" circumstances: late at night, and during colder months.

With more accurate data on tornado evolution, we may be better able to predict their formation, and save lives ... thanks to some new twists on the old twister.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research, brought to you! Learn more at

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