Essays On Tornadoes Causes And Effect

Before Strategy/Engage: 15 minutes

1. Pass out the "exit slip" from the previous lesson where students responded to the following questions:

  • Which months had the highest amount of tornadoes in the United States? Which months had the least?
  • How many more tornadoes have occurred on average in May than in January?
  • Based on what the tornado group discussed from their findings on climate and tornadoes, why would tornadoes be more prevalent in certain months and certain regions of the United States?

2. The teacher should call on student(s) to share. Explain to students that we are going to focus on tornadoes as a weather phenomenon, especially what causes a tornado and the effects that it has on an area. (4-5 minutes)

3. To review what causes a tornado, the teacher should show students the video: "How do Tornadoes Form?" video from James Spann, an Alabama meteorologist. (4 min 12 sec)

4. On the board, the teacher should write a K-W-L chart similar to this one from ReadWriteThink. The teacher should ask students what they know are the causes and effects of tornadoes based on the short video and the previous lesson. Write the student responses on the board. Ask students what they want to know about the causes and effects of tornadoes. Write the student responses on the board. (5 min)

During Strategy/Explore & Explain: 65 minutes

1. The teacher should pass out the Cause and Effect T-chart from Highlands. Tell students they are going to research the cause and effects of tornadoes. They will fill out the T-chart with their ideas and then convert their ideas into a two paragraph essay.

2. The teacher should model for students how to find an idea from their text and how to put it in their T-chart. (5 minutes)

2. Students will read the causes and effects of tornadoes on their devices using the following sites:"The Causes & Effects of Tornadoes" from Sciencing and excerpts from "Tornadoes" from Weather Whiz Kids which include "What is a Tornado?", "How Do Tornadoes Form?", "What are Some Other Factors for Tornadoes to Form?", "What do Tornadoes Look Like?", "When are Tornadoes Most Likely to Occur?", "Where are Tornadoes Most Likely to Occur?", and  "Fujita Scale". They will take the information that they find that fits as a cause or effect and put it into the T-chart. (25 minutes)

3. After twenty-five minutes of working, ask students to share with their elbow partner what causes a tornado from their Cause and Effect T-chart. Ask students to make a claim (Tornadoes are caused by ____.) Then, they need to support their claim with evidence from their T-chart. (5 minutes). Ask students to repeat this sharing with the effects of a tornado.  Ask students to make a claim (The effects of tornadoes are ____.) Then, they need to support their claim with evidence from their T-chart. (5 minutes). The teacher should then ask students to share this information with the whole group. A sample T-chart is attached. The answers on the T-chart are not all-inclusive, and students may wish to add other findings from their research. 

Note: As students are making claims and giving supporting evidence verbally, they are actually preparing themselves for their own writing. This activity will also help prepare students for constructed response questions on standardized testing.

4. The teacher should ask students to take out a piece of notebook paper. Using their completed Cause and Effect T-chart, students should develop a cause and effect two paragraph essay. The first paragraph will describe the causes of tornado formation. The second paragraph will describe the effects of a tornado. Remind students of the information that they shared with their elbow partner. At the end of twenty minutes, students should turn in their cause and effect essays. (20 minutes) The teacher will use the cause and effect rubric from ReadWriteThink to score the two paragraph essay.

After Strategy/Explain & Elaborate: 5 minutes

1. The teacher should return to the K-W-L that was created earlier on the board.

2. Ask students what they learned today that they did not know at the beginning of class. Write students' responses on the board under the L. (5 minutes) Student responses should include the causes and effects of tornadoes. 


Throughout history, humans have been amazed and intrigued by the various forces of nature, particularly those associated with weather. This fascination can most readily be attributed to the fact that so many different weather patterns exist throughout the world. This diversity in climates results in a wide range of weather conditions; from relatively calm weather to dangerously violent storms. Despite the great variation in weather patterns among the world’s many climates, tornadoes are one weather phenomenon that have been known to occur in almost every climate on Earth. Because a tornado is one of the world’s most deadly forces of nature, it is important for humans to strive to understand what tornadoes are, how they are formed, their potential dangers, and how to better predict the formation of tornadoes so that effective warnings can be issued.

In order to completely understand the dangers of tornadoes, it is important to examine the current explanations for how and why tornadoes form. Tornadoes are most often generated by supercell storms. Supercell storms are particularly large, severe storms that develop in highly unstable environments in which cool, dry air lies above warm, moist air. Supercells typically form in the United States during the Spring as warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico flows north and comes in contact with cooler, dryer layers of air. The Midwestern section of the United States tends to be the location for the majority of the country’s tornadoes. Because of this, the area from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, spanning over one thousand miles wide, is referred to as “tornado alley”.

Although the number of tornadoes reported in the United States each year may seem rather high, in actuality only one percent of all thunderstorms make tornadoes. Of the total number of tornadoes recorded each year, on average, seventy-nine percent are considered to be weak, twenty percent are rated as strong, and one percent are recorded as violent. Although tornadoes appear mostly in the United States, they have been reported worldwide. It is evident that tornadoes are not isolated to the tornado alley of the United States, but do occur in all different types of regions all over the earth.

Once it is understood of how and why tornadoes form, the next step is to attempt to predict their behavior. Due to the strength of the winds within a tornado, the path that it takes may highly unpredictable. The tornado may move in a circular motion or turn to the left or right.

Due to their extremely high wind speed, tornadoes have the ability to cause a great deal of damage, but they also have been known to produce some extremely unusual events. They are known to carry cars and even houses miles. And leave people homeless and without any belongings on the street. Because some tornadoes appear to be more damaging than others, a system has been created to rate these storms according to their destructive potential. The Fujita scale ranks tornadoes according to their speed and the size of their path. The scale ranges from F0 to F5 (F0 being least destructive and F5 being most destructive). An F0 tornado causes light damage to chimneys, shallow-rooted trees, and sign boards. In the middle of the scale, an F2 tornado causes considerable damage by tearing roofs off frame houses, demolishing mobile homes, snapping large trees, and carrying light objects. On the most destructive end of the scale, an F5 tornado causes incredible destruction. Such tornadoes can lift strong frame houses off their foundations and carry them considerable distances to disintegrate, carry automobile-sized objects through the air for hundreds of feet, and even de-bark trees.

With the help of modern technology, meteorologists and weather researchers have gotten a lot more experience in the area of tornado forecasting. Through satellite images meteorologists have made it possible to detect the shape of the clouds. Knowing the shape and the type of the cloud system that produces a storm helps meteorologists to predict whether or not a tornado will be produced. This method of tornado monitoring has been useful in the past. However, the most effective method of monitoring severe storms is the use of Doppler radar. It measures wind speeds by bouncing microwaves off rain, dust, and other objects in the air.

Doppler radar is proving to be a valuable tool in predicting the formation of tornadoes. Using radar images of a storm, meteorologists can identify rotation within clouds thirty minutes before a tornado will emerge. Forecasters issue tornado warnings at the first sign of a developing tornado. This gives the public more time to be ready for the tornado to touch down.

The Optical Transient Detector(OTD) was invented in 1995, by NASA. This was the first invention able to detect lightning events during both day and night. Its job was to detect and increased number of cloud to cloud lightning flashes. The OTD was able to detect more lightning passes from cloud to cloud than between clouds and Earth just before tornadoes are made. Its limitations are that its only use is that its only able to find tornados only moment before they hit the ground. The OTD technology, however, is useful in that it can detect the formation of a tornado much quicker than Doppler radar.

The more we learn about tornadoes and storms that can create them, the more they seem to become even more of a mystery. It is possible that some insight we have yet to find will help in our understanding of tornadoes. On the other hand, new research may not result in a quick understanding, but may raise new and even more confusing issues scientists will have to deal with. Until the many questions about tornadoes are answered, tornadoes will remain one of mother nature’s biggest destructors.

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