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Can You Survive If a Tornado Picks You Up?

A tornado causing destruction in a quiet town

Tornadoes can be really scary, and though they have been portrayed in many different ways in movies, the reality of them is quite a bit different. One of the most-asked questions when it comes to tornadoes is can you survive if a tornado picks you up? We are going to answer this question and many others in this article, so you can find out what is really going on inside a tornado.

How Does a Tornado Work?

A tornado can form when warm, humid air collides with cold, dry air, and this will usually produce a thunderstorm. Tornadoes can occur at any time throughout the day or night, but the most common time for them to form is in the late afternoon. This is due to the fact that by this time in the day, the sun will have heated the ground and the atmosphere enough to be able to produce a thunderstorm.

The denser cold air will be pushed over the warmer air, and this will typically result in a thunderstorm. The warm air will then go on to rise through the cold air, which will cause an updraft. The updraft will start to rotate if the winds vary sharply in speed or direction. As this now-rotating updraft is able to draw in more warm air from the moving thunderstorm, the speed of the rotation will continue to increase.

Things that will provide even more energy are a strong band of wind in the atmosphere and cool air that is fed by the jet stream. Next, water droplets from the mesocyclone’s moist air will form a funnel cloud, and this funnel will continue to grow until it eventually descends from the cloud. At the moment it touches the ground, it becomes a tornado.

Can You Survive If a Tornado Picks You Up?

If you were to be picked up by a tornado, the odds are that your chances of survival wouldn’t be very high. It has been reported that 91% of people that encounter a tornado are either killed or severely injured, and getting close to a tornado is very risky. If you got picked up by a tornado, you would be spun around at the same speed as the wind, and this speed can be higher than 300 miles per hour in some cases.

Additionally, you are not the only thing inside the tornado, and depending on the strength and intensity of the tornado, you could also be met with debris like glass, wood, and bricks. There could also be cars and houses inside the tornado, and you would more than likely be hit by these objects that are being hurtled around inside of the tornado with you. 

It is safe to say that being inside of a tornado wouldn’t be the most pleasant of experiences, and it would definitely be extremely dangerous. So, if you got picked up by a tornado, your chances of survival would be slim. However, there are few cases of people surviving such incidents, and we will give you more information on this a little further on.

What is it Like to be Inside a Tornado?

Inside of a tornado would be freezing cold with a lack of oxygen. The wind would be constantly funnelled into the centre of the vortex, and the temperature within the tornado would be 15-20 degrees colder than it would be outside of it. It is also thought that the air density within the tornado would be 20% lower than the density of the air at high altitudes, which would make it pretty much impossible to breathe on your own. 

So, even if you managed to remain unscathed by the masses of debris that is flying around inside of a tornado, your chances of survival are low. If you were to remain inside the tornado for more than around three minutes, it is likely that you would pass out due to a lack of oxygen. 

Another thing to be aware of is that when the tornado does eventually come to an end, you are going to be deposited from whatever height you are at. Depending on the height that you travel to inside, this fall could be unsurvivable. The best thing that you can do in the event of a tornado is to stay as far away as you can in a safe place.

Picked Up By a Tornado and Survived

There are a few stories of people that have been picked up by tornadoes that have lived to tell the tale, and we will leave some of the stories of these rare events below for you to read about.

Father and Son Tornado Ordeal

In Beaufort County, a father and son were in their truck during a tornado, and the truck happened to be picked up while they were inside. They saw the tornado coming and tried to avoid it, but when they stopped to try and out-manoeuvre it, they were swept up by the wind that sent them spinning.

After being intensely jerked around from side to side, a tree trunk collided with the vehicle that stopped them from spinning. This object that could have quite easily killed them both might have saved their lives. Once the tree hit them, they went into a downwards roll. The truck rolled a few times before stopping, and the two of them landed hundreds of feet away from the point where they had been picked up.

Eight-Year-Old Boy Survives Tornado

Fireman Reginald Eppes was at home with his family when the tornadoes began to work their way through his neighbourhood, and the winds began to wreck his home. When he got to his eldest son’s bedroom, the tornado broke through the walls and stole the boy from his bed. He was swept into the air and carried around 30 feet away before he was set back down again.

The tornado was present for roughly 30 seconds until it finally passed on, leaving their home in pieces. The father has reported looking up from the chaos and seeing a silhouette walking towards the home. Miraculously, this figure was his son, who only suffered a few cuts and bruises during the ordeal.