Why tornadoes "sound like a freight train"

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    Mar 16, 2008 9:53 PM GMT
  • fryblock

    Posts: 387

    Mar 16, 2008 11:30 PM GMT
    Reynolds Wolf is very attractive icon_razz.gif
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    Mar 16, 2008 11:45 PM GMT
    ...except that his explanation is off the wall, no matter how good looking the guy is. Having been near many tornadoes, I can tell you they don't sound like freight train. I understand that comes from people merely trying to characterize what the sound remind them of. It is not a chug-chug-chug, as Reynolds so off-the-cuff tries to portray.

    It is a low frequency roar...and the closest thing I can think of that is in common experience, would be a large, very large waterfall. What you're hearing is the whoosh of wind, and the faster the wind, the lower the frequency of the sound. A tornado with 150 to 200 mph winds concentrated in a 100 meter or so diameter will sound very much like a large water fall, and if the thing is ripping things up at the same time, the sounds of that happening will be mixed into it.

    It is not a good sound, I can tell you. However, what you saw in that video clip was what typically happens to on-air meteorologists. They get ambushed by the anchors, and they have to extemporize an explanation, no matter how correct, or incorrect it is.

  • fryblock

    Posts: 387

    Mar 16, 2008 11:58 PM GMT
    I've never been near a tornado so I wouldn't know what they sound like. I'm more of a hurricane boy.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9528

    Mar 17, 2008 12:28 AM GMT
    The sound of a tornado is similar to the sound of a sustained gust of wind blowing through a power line. It has a dull and flat "woooooo" sound.

    icon_idea.gifAlso, try this: get a paint mixing stick at your local hardware store. Tie a 3-4 foot string to the top end (through the hole) and twirl it around perpendicular to the ground. You'll hear the same kind of sound.
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    Mar 17, 2008 2:40 AM GMT
    I grew up in tornado country, and FastProf is exactly right. It's a roar, and a very scary sound. We used to have at least three or four each tornado season, and you could actually tell by the feel of the air when you got up in the morning if there would be a tornado later....it's a change in the barometric pressure that your skin senses.

    Now I live in hurricane land, and THAT can sound like a freight train. Not chugga chugga, but the onrushing sound. We had one a few years back that hovered directly over my town (Boca Raton, then) for 48 hours. That was Hurricane Frances.
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    Mar 17, 2008 4:07 AM GMT
    It's all about a big sucking soundicon_eek.gif
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16461

    Mar 17, 2008 6:10 PM GMT
    The sound I heard from the Andover tornado in April, 1991 wasn't a freight train.....

    We live near McConnell Air Force Base. For many years it was the home to the B-1 Bomber.. to me this sounded like a B-1 plain and simple..

    I won't ever forget watching that tornado, ripping the shit out of everything. It was freaky and since it reminded me of a B-1 it seemed kind of surreal.