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VIDEO: Tornado damages 50 homes in China

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A tornado is a narrow, rapidly spinning column of air around an intense low pressure centre that reaches the ground from cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderstorm clouds, according to the Met Office.

Tornadoes have a narrow width, usually up to 100 metres (328 feet) but the damage can be concentrated and severe.

As they develop, funnel shaped clouds extend from the base of the cloud and when these reach the ground, a tornado is formed.

A tornado is a narrow, rapidly spinning column of air around an intense low pressure centre that reaches the ground from cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderstorm clouds, according to the Met Office. Pictured, a tornado over a field

A tornado is a narrow, rapidly spinning column of air around an intense low pressure centre that reaches the ground from cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderstorm clouds, according to the Met Office. Pictured, a tornado over a field

Tornadoes can have wind speeds up to 483 kilometres per hour (300 miles per hour) and when they touch the ground can destroy trees and buildings in their path, throwing heavy objects like cars though the air like a Frisbee.

Tornadoes which occur over water are referred to as a waterspout and those which do not touch ground are referred to as a funnel cloud.

The highest surface wind speed ever recorded of 486 kilometres per hour (302 miles per hour) is a result of the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak.

The greatest distance travelled by a single tornado was 352 kilometres (219 miles) from Ellington, Missouri to Princeton, Indiana, on 18 March 1925.

The most tornadoes in a single year were recorded in 2004. There were 1,820. 



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