Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekly MUSE: Tornados

Photo by: Matthew Straubmuller
This weekend I saw the movie, Oz, the Great and Powerful. I LOVED IT!

In this story, we learn the backstory of the wizard character from the classic story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum and published in 1900.

I won’t tell you too much about this movie, but while watching the movie, I did find this week’s MUSE!


Not only does Dorothy ride her way into OZ on a tornado, so did the wizard. Dorothy took a house. The wizard took a hot air balloon. Take a look at the tornado in the movie trailer.  

Tornados are sometimes referred to as “twisters” or “cyclones”. They are violent, dangerous, rotating columns of air that reach down to the ground from a thunderstorm cloud.

They are formed when cool dry air from the Rockies collides with warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. This happens in the plains area between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains. This area is also known as Tornado Alley.

Take a look at this video to see some footage of real tornadoes and to learn more about how the form.

The deadliest tornado in U.S history happened on March 18, 1925. This tornado ripped through, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. It killed nearly 700 people.

While meteorologists can predict when weather conditions are prime for tornados to occur, they cannot actually predict when or where a tornado will form. But after a tornado has struck, scientists collect data to see how they will rate it. They use the Fujita Scale. F-0 (the mildest and least destructive) to F-5 (the fiercest and most destructive).

An F-5 tornado can grow up to 2 miles wide and spin winds over 300 miles per hour. This is enough force to throw cars like bullets and sweep houses off their foundations.

So, what do you do if you are ever in the path of a tornado? The best place is underground. If you have no basement or cellar, then go to the center-most room of your house away from windows. In most houses this would be a center bathroom. If your house is more than one story, make sure to go downstairs.

If you are outside and cannot seek shelter, find a ditch and lie flat on the ground with your hands covering your head. Do not stay inside a car.

With that new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these “what if” questions will help you get started.

What if a tornado was a gigantic cotton candy machine?

What if you were sucked up by a tornado and transported to a new land like Dorothy and Toto?

What if you had a super power to create tornados on command or stop them on command?

The possibilities are endless! And please leave your own “what if” questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

Grab a cup of hot cocoa, a piece of paper and a pencil, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere! I look forward to seeing where you take us!

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

P.S. The word of the week is “meteorology”. Here is the definition: the study of the Earth’s atmosphere, especially of weather forming processes and weather forecasting.


  1. WHAT IF... 1. What if a dinosaur was a tornado?

    2. What if you were turned into a tornado by a evil witch?

    3. What if the tornado was made out of cat fur?

    4. What if a tornado was your friend?

    5. What if your teacher was a tornado? Ruby Lowell Elementary school

  2. 1. What if there were no tornadoes?
    2. What if tornadoes could be really destructive – like F-10 on the Fujita scale?
    3. What if tornadoes moved water instead of air?
    4. What if there was Tornado land – all rides were tornadoes?
    5. What if tornadoes moved slowly – like a soft wind – spread popocorn in it’s path?
    6. What if tornadoes could be controlled – you could use them to move people instead of planes and save on fuel?
    7. What if you could start your own personal tornado, attached to a GPS and it swept your car over there in a couple of mins?
    8. What if you shaped something like chocolate in the form of a tornado and it actually became one?
    9. What if 2 tornadoes collided and had a tornado fight?
    10. What if countries used tornadoes as weapons to fight in a war?

    - Amar