HAINES CITY, Fla. (Dec. 27) – Tess Bentley knew the high-pitched whine that woke her early Saturday was a tornado. She took two steps and dived into her bedroom closet full of clothes.
Within seconds, Mrs. Bentley, 48, and her two-bedroom house were spinning in the air. She was still in her closet when her home landed upside down on top of a neighbor’s house about 50 yards away.
More than 100 homes were damaged by the tornado that tore through the Lake Region Mobile Village, a retirement community 35 miles southwest of Orlando. The twister – part of a series of storms that swamped Florida’s Gulf Coast – left four residents hospitalized, but none of the injuries were life-threatening.
Mrs. Bentley suffered only bumps and bruises.
neighbor Dick Runge said ”If this isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is.”
Tornadoes form from severe thunderstorms. They are very destructive because they have a high energy density. They also don’t last very long. This makes it hard to learn about them. Since scientists don’t know much about tornadoes, it’s also hard to forecast them. And because little is known about tornadoes, there are many myths about them which aren’t true.
Tornadoes can form anywhere in the world. About 75% of the them happen in the United States. Most of these form in the central U. S. in a place called tornado alley.
People who are interested in tornadoes sometimes become spotters for their community. Sometimes people actually chase tornadoes! After a tornado passes by, scientists try and figure out how strong it was by using the Fujita Tornado Scale.
U.S. Killer Tornadoes of 1997
September 18, 1997 5:15 PM
A series of at least five tornadoes swept through northeastern Minnesota this evening. The worst damage was in Little Falls, Hillman and Onamia. One person was killed in a building 6 miles east of Lastrup, Minnesota. Two men were injured in Hillman when their vehicle was lifted into the air, spun around, and dumped into the woods about 100 feet off the road.
July 2, 1997 3:32 PM
The tornado that struck the Chatueau Oak Hill Trailer Park near Holly in Oakland County, Michigan, was one of 16 reported that afternoon. It killed a 36-year-old woman in a trailer. The whole metropolitan Detoit area was beseiged by storms during the early evening, and the strong winds, lightning and flooding caused more destruction than any storm since the Palm Sunday storms in 1965.
May 27, 1997 2:50 PM F5
A devastating tornado touched down in Jarrell and killed 27 people in this small central Texas town. Although television stations scrolled tornado warnings 30 minutes in advance, and sirens went off, there were few places to go for safety. Most, if not all, homes were on slabs, with no basements to shelter in. Whole familes died. Some meteorologists who have seen photos of the damage have said that they have never seen house foundations that were swept as clean. The death total was delayed several days because of the condition of the bodies, which were difficult to identify. This was one of the worst tornadoes in Texas in many, many years. A $20,000,000 damage total was estimated.
May 2, 1997 5:50 PM
Tornadoes touched down in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia on Friday, May 2, 1997. One killed a nine-year-old girl and injured three other people when it struck a mobile home park 6 miles south-southwest of Chickamauga, Georgia. Her brother was one of the injured in the 90-home park.
April 10, 1997 8:45 PM F1
Small tornadoes touched down and numerous funnel clouds were sighted in Lubbock, Crosby, Hale, Swisher, Lynn, Dawson, Lamb, Garza and Dickens Counties in the Texas Panhandle. Some homes and communities suffered wind damage, and houses and cars were damaged by hail. A Crosby County man was killed when his double-wide mobile home near White River Lake was “twisted” and torn apart, with him inside. As authorities attempted to extricate him from the wreckage, they were pelted with base-ball sized hail. His wife was badly cut up.
March 28, 1997 8:15 PM F2
One person was killed in a trailer home a mile west of Summer Shade, Kentucky.
March 28, 1997 6:04 PM F3
One man was killed and five other people were injured