A Tornado is a very violent windstorm, in which the air whirls rapidly upwards in grayish funnel-shaped cloud, with its tip near the ground. It twists and sways in the sky like a diving thirig and moves in a straight line over the countryside at about 6 to 30 m.p.h. No one knows exactly what starts a tornado, but it certainly happens when extremely hot, moist air meets cold, dry air. When two kinds of air try to pass each other they get locked together and the hot air spirals upwards more and more quickly until it may be whirling round at between 400 to 500 m.p.h.
Tornadoes do a vast amount of damage, even though they seldom last for more than an hour or two. The speed of the whirling air makes quite small things such as grains of sand into dangerous weapons. Once in America a corn cob picked up by a tornado was shot through a horse’s skull and killed the horse. The hot air spiraling upwards sucks up everything in its path, rather as a vacuum cleaner does. Tornadoes have been known to tear steel bridges from their foundations, to uproot large trees and to lift trains off their lines. People and animals have been lifted and carried some distance; a horse, for example, was once picked up, carried 3 kilometres, and put down again unhurt. Queer things happen such as corks flying out of bottles and closed boxes and houses exploding as the air within them rushes out with great violence.
A waterspout is a tornado that happens over sea. The whirling air sucks up water, and the waterspout moves along with a hissing, roaring, crashing noise. Sometimes tiny fish are caught up, and their scales make the whirling column sparkle. When a water spout passes from sea to land it becomes a tornado.