Michigan’s tornado season starts in April and doesn’t end until July – but as we all know, Michigan weather can be a little… unpredictable. Here are a few tornado basics you need to know in Michigan ahead of tornado season.

Tornado Basics You Need to Know in Michigan

Here’s what you need to know about tornadoes before tornado season hits this year.

How Tornadoes Form

Tornadoes form when warm, damp air hits cold, dry air coming from another direction. Rising air moves up within a storm cell and creates a spinning, swirling air mass.

You Might Not See Tornadoes

The only time you see a tornado is when it sucks up dirt and debris – other than that, the funnels are invisible.

Tornado Intensity Can Be… Intense

Tornadoes can be classified as weak, strong or violent – and while violent tornadoes make up only about 2 percent of all tornadoes, they cause the vast majority of tornado deaths.

Related: What is the Fujita-Pearson Tornado Scale?

The Average Warning Time for a Tornado

On average, tornado forecasters can provide about 13 minutes of warning if a tornado is on its way – which is a lot different from hurricane warnings, which can last for days.

You can identify the conditions for tornadoes to spawn on your own. Look for dark, greenish skies, big pieces of hail, and a roaring that sounds like a freight train.

How Fast Tornadoes Move

Tornadoes typically move at speeds of about 10 to 20 miles per hour. (That’s not wind speed – that’s how fast they travel across the ground.) That’s how they’re able to cause so much damage in so short a time. Most tornadoes travel less than 6 miles before they fizzle out.

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