Word Power | Tornadoes

What’s in Today’s Episode?

Learn 10 new words in the context of our story about tornadoes. Learn accolade, garner, rash, fury, perilous, devastate, extensive, transitory, primarily and colleague in this new Word Power episode from English Plus Podcast.

Audio Episode

Tornadoes

Filled with exciting special effects, the 1996 movie Twister attempted to show the awesome force of tornadoes. It also pretended to show how weather researchers study tornadoes. In the movie, fictional meteorologists actually “chased” tornadoes. Movie fans all over the world responded to the film with enthusiastic accolades. However, the film also garnered severe criticism from educators and meteorologists. Its fictional scientists did not act wisely or even realistically. In fact, they rashly put themselves in the paths of raging tornadoes over and over again.

Whirling with tremendous fury, at speeds of up to 500 miles per hour, tornadoes are nature’s most perilous storms. In minutes, a tornado can devastate everything in its path. When a tornado touched down in Jarrell, Texas, in 1997, the destruction was extensive. A housing development was destroyed, twenty-nine people were killed, and hundreds were left homeless.

Shaped like a tall, thin funnel, a tornado’s path is quite narrow and unpredictable. If a tornado strikes a neighborhood, for example, it might destroy houses on one side of the street and leave those on the other side of the street untouched. Although terribly destructive, tornadoes are quite transitory; most last only a few minutes.

Tornadoes can occur at any time of year and have been spotted in all regions of the United States. However, the most severe tornadoes occur primarily in the spring in the Midwest and Texas. Masses of hot, city air exist in the atmosphere above the southwestern plateau of New Mexico. When these winds move eastward, they meet the humid, moist air of the Mississippi Valley and the Gulf of Mexico. The mixture of these air masses often leads to a violent thunderstorm, which can develop into a tornado.

Tornadoes form so rapidly that there is little warning. However, Dr. Joshua Wurman and his colleagues at the University of Oklahoma and the National Severe Storms Laboratory recently made a breakthrough in tornado research. They have developed a truck-mounted radar device that measures the wind speeds and the upward and downward drafts within a tornado’s funnel. “With greater knowledge, we may one day be able to lengthen warning times from, say, five minutes to fifteen minutes,” Dr. Wurman stated. “That margin could save lives by giving people a little more time to run to storm cellars.”

Word list

If someone is given an accolade, something is done or said about them which shows how much people admire them.

honor, award, recognition, tribute

Movie fans all over the world responded to the film with enthusiastic accolades.

If someone has garnered something useful or valuable, they have gained it or collected it.

collect, assemble, gather, accumulate

However, the film also garnered severe criticism from educators and meteorologists.

If someone is rash or does rash things, they act without thinking carefully first, and therefore make mistakes or behave foolishly.

reckless, hasty, impulsive, imprudent

In fact, they rashly put themselves in the paths of raging tornadoes over and over again.

fury is violent or very strong anger.

anger, passion, rage, madness

Whirling with tremendous fury, at speeds of up to 500 miles per hour, tornadoes are nature’s most perilous storms.

Something that is perilous is very dangerous.

dangerous, threatening, exposed, vulnerable

Whirling with tremendous fury, at speeds of up to 500 miles per hour, tornadoes are nature’s most perilous storms.

If something devastates an area or a place, it damages it very badly or destroys it totally.

destroy, waste, ruin, sack

In minutes, a tornado can devastate everything in its path.

If something is extensive, it is very great.

great, large, huge, extended

When a tornado touched down in Jarrell, Texas, in 1997, the destruction was extensive.

If you say that something is transitory, you mean that it lasts only for a short time.

short-lived, short, passing, brief

Although terribly destructive, tornadoes are quite transitory; most last only a few minutes.

You use primarily to say what is mainly true in a particular situation.

chiefly, largely, generally, mainly

However, the most severe tornadoes occur primarily in the spring in the Midwest and Texas.

Your colleagues are the people you work with, especially in a professional job.

fellow worker, partner, ally, associate

Dr. Joshua Wurman and his colleagues recently made a breakthrough in tornado research.

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