Sometimes, during a very strong thunderstorm, a funnel-shaped cloud extends down from the rest of the storm clouds. This is a column of air swirling dangerously fast. If it doesn’t reach the ground, it’s called a funnel cloud. If it does reach the ground, it’s called a tornado.
Where the narrow end of the funnel touches the ground, everything flies around in the wind - from dirt and leaves to cars and roofs. Often a tornado will touch the ground for only a few minutes and travel less than a mile. But some tornadoes touchdown for much longer, plowing through towns, neighborhoods, or farms.
Some tornadoes are narrow - only as wide as five big rig trucks - where they touch the ground. Other tornadoes are huge - up to two miles across.
More tornadoes happen in the central United States than anywhere else in the world.