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Lv 6
Dimi asked in Science & MathematicsWeather · 1 decade ago

Does a huge tornado (F4-F5) really sound like a freight train? If not what does it sound like?

I do not live in a tornado prone area and would like to know from folks who have heard or seen them. Thank you.

8 Answers

  • Water
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I have "chased" storms and occasionally a tornado for over 40 years. Yes, I have been close enough to several to hear the roar quite well. This includes one F5 which was the Jordan, Iowa tornado of 1976.

    A mesocyclone, which is the meteorological feature that produces nearly all large tornadoes is a very rapidly rotating vertical updraft. They are very noisy due to the wind and hail that is within the updraft. So even if the tornado has not touched down, you will likely hear it as it approaches. The sound is very similar to that of an approaching train that is under power as it increases speed or is pulling up a grade with 6 or so engines pulling in tandem. It has a quality that is more of a pulsing low frequency throbbing that can be felt in your chest sort of like the big base speakers that are used in some cars. Once you hear it, you will never forget it.

    After the touchdown, the debris and wind blowing through the trees, buildings and the debris itself becomes very overwhelming. In fact, many people who have been through a tornado have stated that it was so loud and individual sounds couldn't be distinguished, that they perceived that it was quiet.

    In reality, the wind, which by itself in lesser tornados can be described as a whooshing sigh sort of like air escaping from a large truck tire only magnified several hundred times. But, with a lot of debris and trees and building being torn apart, it is very hard to hear individual sounds. One of the most amazing audio tapes I heard was one from the northern Alabama tornadoes of April, 1974 which was in a house that was destroyed. I listened to that particular tape dozens of times and it was very difficult to pick out the sounds of any one thing breaking. Most of it was just a load roar. But it was one of the survivors of this house that said it was quiet. When they heard the tape after discovering that the tape recorder was recording when it happened, they couldn't hardly believe it.

    Source(s): an old forecaster
  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    Does a huge tornado (F4-F5) really sound like a freight train? If not what does it sound like?

    I do not live in a tornado prone area and would like to know from folks who have heard or seen them. Thank you.

    Source(s): huge tornado f4 f5 sound freight train sound like:
  • 4 years ago

    Tornado Sounds

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Well, tornadoes basically produce a loud roaring sound. That sound is the accumulation of wind blowing against the ground, objects moving and breaking, debris flying through the air and colliding and breaking apart, as well as the sound of air rushing upward in the center of the funnel (like suction). Often the volume of the sound is so great that people can't hear details, just "noise".... you know like "it was so loud I couldn't even hear myself think" kind of thing.

    I think there are two reasons why people compare this sound to a freight train. The first is that there really is no comparable sound, so people find something similar to describe it. In this case, a large freight train loaded with cargo and traveling at a good speed on a railroad track produces a large, loud sound. The second is that someone long ago compared the sound to that of a freight train, and now that's just what everybody says (because really, it's difficult to describe as it is).

    Personally, I don't think they sound like freight trains at all. I know what a freight train sounds like and weather phenomena do not make sounds like that.

    Source(s): Living in Tornado Alley
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Most tornado survivors will tell you that a tornado either sounds like a freight train or a plane.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I have chased a few tornadoes and to me, they sound more like a giant waterfall. Go listen to Niagara Falls. Tornadoes remind me of that.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    For the best answers, search on this site

    Wagon trains... tornadoes were slower then.

  • 1 decade ago


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