Can A Tornado Kill You? (The Truth)

can a tornado kill you

There are around 1200 tornadoes each year in the United States, and an average of 300 every year in Europe.

With winds that can reach up to 300mph, it’s no surprise that these extreme weather events can be incredibly dangerous at times.

But can a tornado kill you?

In short, yes, a tornado can certainly kill you, in multiple ways too. They not only pose a threat from the tornado itself but indirectly too.

Can A Tornado Actually Kill You?

Yes, a tornado can certainly kill you. There is an average of 800 tornadoes worldwide that result in 80 deaths and 1500 injuries in any given year.

Tornadoes are no joke, and if you’ve ever witnessed one in person then you’ll know the feeling of being so vulnerable to mother nature.

Tornadoes kill people in a variety of ways, not just from being pulled into their vortex.

Below are some of the ways in which people die from tornadoes:


Flying debris causes the most deaths around the globe during a tornado.

With winds of 200mph+ and so many objects being sucked in the vortex, flying debris can quickly turn into missiles that can be thrown at you from every angle.

Tornadoes are strong enough to pick up cars, livestock and take rooves off, and with all of this debris flying around in a whirlwind at high speeds, the risk of death from debris during a tornado is high.

Dropped From A Height

If a tornado was to pick you up, it could transport you and then drop you which could cause you to die upon hitting the ground.

Some rare instances have occurred where tornadoes have picked people up and taken them as high as 1/4 mile into the sky and then put them back down with minor injuries, although incredibly rare.

Tornadoes could easily suck you into their vortex and drop you from a height, which is one of the ways some people die from them.


The environmental damage that tornadoes do is immense.

Powerful EF5 tornadoes can tear down brand-new buildings and effortlessly rip trees out of the ground,

If a building roof, tree, or any other object was to land on you whilst you were trying to escape, the likelihood of death is quite high.

Car Accidents

One of the biggest mistakes people make when faced with a tornado is trying to outrun it in their car.

Most tornadoes can move at speeds of 30mph, and some can have bursts of up to 50mph.

Combine this with the extensive traffic and hazards that tornadoes bring, car accidents are much more likely to happen in the event of a tornado.


Tornadoes can also cause fires to start, as they can tear down electricity lines which could set debris on fire.

There is also something called a “fire tornado” which is as horrifying as it sounds. This happens when winds of a wildfire circulate to create a rotating eddy of air.

Tornadoes can suck in combustible gases which could ignite because of the debris.

Sucking The Air Out Of Your Lungs

Although rare, if you found yourself in the vortex of a tornado, it is possible that the sudden onset of negative air pressure and upwards winds could suck the air right out of your lungs.

If this happens for longer than a couple of minutes, you would die from lack of oxygen.

Likely one of the most horrifying ways to die from a tornado.

Can You Survive Being In A Tornado?

On a lighter note, it is possible to survive being in a tornado, and people have done exactly that!

Matt Suter was 19 when he was swept up inside a tornado.

He was rendered unconscious and woke up 1307 feet away from where he was picked up and only suffered minor injuries.

However, the likelihood is that due to the debris, you would either have serious injuries or die as a result of being in a tornado.

What Happens If You Go In A Tornado?

Tornadoes are known to be incredibly low pressure, so if you found yourself inside of one you would struggle to breathe because of this.

Researchers estimate that the density of the air would be 20% lower than what is found at high altitudes.

Trying to breathe inside of a tornado would be like trying to breathe at an altitude of 8000m, and at this level, you would generally need assistance.

Aside from the fact that it would be incredibly difficult to breathe, you would hear the noise of what sounds like a freight train traveling up your back.

Tornadoes are incredibly loud, and this deafening noise combined with the lack of oxygen would cause you real distress.

Some people actually die from heart attacks when they are inside or close to a tornado, so trying to keep your cool inside of one would be tough.

You are also likely to be hit by lots of flying debris, which can cause serious injury and is the result of most tornado deaths.

Debris is a big killer when it comes to tornadoes, glass, plastic, wood and other objects are hurdling around at immense speeds that could knock you out if they catch you.

What Are The Chances Of Dying In A Tornado?

Thankfully the odds of being killed by a tornado are 1 in 5,693,092.

There term killer tornado refers to the roughly 2% of tornadoes that result in the loss of life, so being killed by a tornado is rare.

That said, if you for some reason do happen to find yourself within a tornado, the chances of survival are slim, with debris being the most likely cause of death.

Being prepared for tornadoes is the best way to stay safe, thankfully we have the technology now that does a great job of warning us of tornadoes so that we can evacuate and prepare.

Final Thoughts

So, can a tornado kill you? Absolutely!

Although it’s incredibly rare to die from a tornado, they do still kill every year and are not to be underestimated.

Tornadoes kill people in a number of ways, often indirectly through debris, car accidents, and environmental accidents.

The chances of being sucked into a vortex are incredibly slim, but people have experienced it and come out of the other side to tell the tale.

Often there is enough time to evacuate and remove yourself away from the situation before it gets too close to do serious harm.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope it’s been helpful and answered your question about can tornadoes kill people.

If you have enjoyed this post, feel free to stick around and learn more about tornadoes and other extreme weather.

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