Tornadoes are well known for their distinctive vortex mixed with dark clouds, as well as the amount of destruction that often comes with them.
But what do tornadoes sound like? Are tornadoes loud?
In short, tornadoes are incredibly loud, and you can hear them from miles away (literally!).
They have been described by some as sounding like freight trains or jet engines, with a distinct loud sound that is enough to send a shiver up your spine.
Let’s take a closer look…
Can You Hear A Tornado?
Aside from the large, rotating columns of air that are whirling through the sky tearing up everything in its path, can you hear a tornado?
Yes, you certainly can! Most witnesses of tornadoes all express that the sound of a tornado is loud and that it’s a sound that they won’t forget anytime soon.
The type of sound you’ll hear from a tornado is going to depend on how close you are to it. The closer you are, the louder it’s going to be.
With a combination of things happening during a tornado, the amount of sound you hear will vary depending on the strength and size of the tornado.
What Does A Tornado Sound Like?
Many that have witnessed tornadoes close up have described the sound as being like that of a jet engine or a freight train.
You will hear hisses, loud rumbles, and the occasional bang when you’re near a tornado.
Take a look at this short video of a large tornado to get a good idea of what a roaring tornado sounds like.
Aside from the roar of the tornado, you will also hear the sounds of it picking up debris, blowing over objects, and ripping down structures.
The sounds associated with a tornado can be terrifying, due to the roar of the tornado as well as the loud crashes of cars and other objects being thrown.
These sounds do not come from the tornado itself but are associated with it as all the sounds gel together to create a terrifying noise that people remember all of their lives.
As we learn more and more about tornadoes, we’ve discovered that they actually make sounds that cannot be heard by us humans.
They also emit infrasound that we can only hear with special tools. These tools help us locate and identify tornadoes faster than we could with our ears alone.
How Far Away Can A Tornado Be Heard?
Based on data that researchers have collected, it’s estimated that the average distance a tornado can be heard from is 1.5 miles away.
However, large tornadoes can be heard from as far as 4 miles away, which really puts into perspective just how loud some of these large tornadoes can be.
Small tornadoes will not be able to be heard from very far away, I’m talking about the ones that dissipate in a couple of seconds.
But the average ones and large ones certainly can, and it’s a warning sign that you should get out of the area quickly before it passes through.
Why Are Tornadoes So Loud?
Although the sounds that tornado witnesses hear vary depending on how close they are to it, they almost all agree on one thing. The loudness.
A tornado’s vortex is made up of rapidly rotating air that is spinning around at incredibly fast speeds.
When you think of how loud it sounds when you put your window down when driving on a freeway, imagine that magnified hundreds of times
But it’s not only the wind that makes the noise of a tornado so loud. As they pass through the landscape they scoop up and tear down almost everything in their path.
The sound of trees being ripped from their roots and buildings being ripped down is also a contributing factor as to why tornadoes are so loud.
Tornadoes can often bring other severe weather with them, such as lashing rain and heavy hail. This mixed in with the sound of the tornado also adds to the loudness.
Does It Go Quiet Before A Tornado?
Before a tornado forms, it will often go quiet as the air becomes still. This is an eerie sound and is a sign that a tornado is coming.
This is the calm before the storm, and shortly after this calmness, the tornado will likely form.
Tornadoes usually form on the edge of thunderstorms, so it’s not uncommon to find blue, sunny skies just behind the storm where the tornado is.
Are Tornadoes Quiet Inside The Vortex?
The vortex is the calmest part of a tornado, and the sound of being inside one would be just slightly quieter than being on the immediate outside.
This is because the vortex would act as a sort of barrier to the outside noise, but the air pressure and freezing cold temperatures would likely take your life in a matter of minutes.
Not only that, but you would be deafened by the sound of the air rotating in the vortex, and although slightly quieter than being on the outside but very close, it would still sound like a jet engine.
You may not hear the damage the tornado is causing, such as cars being picked up and debris being thrown, but the deafening noise of rotating air would be incredibly loud.
So, are tornadoes loud? Absolutely! Incredibly loud. They can be heard from multiple miles away.
The sound a tornado makes is an eerie one, and one that will stay with you for life if you are even close enough to a tornado to witness it.
The vortex is what generates the sound of a tornado, as air is rotating at incredibly fast speeds, as well as the debris and damage that the tornado is causing.
Tornadoes will roar, rumble and hiss when they are close to you. But the sound of a tornado does vary depending on how far away you are from it.
Either way, I hope you are never so close to a tornado that you have to hear this nightmarish sound, as the damage that comes with them can be immense.
Hopefully, this post has been insightful into why tornadoes are so loud, as well as give you an idea of what a tornado sounds like when close up to one.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to stick around to learn more about tornadoes and other extreme weather events.
Hey, I’m Sam – the founder of GustyPlanet. I’ve had a fascination with all things weather for as long as I can remember. I witnessed my first tornado at the age of 6, and since then became an avid storm chaser that is hooked on learning as much as I can about extreme weather. This blog was created to share my knowledge and to expand and delve deeper into the wonderful world of weather phenomena. I hope you enjoy your stay here and thanks for visiting.