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自然界最强风暴——龙卷风 Tornados——Nature’s Ultimate Storms

Call them twisters or tornados; they’re nature’s most violent storms, with 1)swirling winds that can top 300 miles per hour.


About 800 twisters 2)sweep through the US every year, more than anywhere else in the world. The hardest hit area is a 3)swath of the great plains from Texas to South Dakota, known as “Tornado 4)Alley.” Here, warm air flows up from the Gulf of Mexico in the spring and summer and 5)crashes into cold air pushing down from Canada. The meeting produces violent thunderstorms called “supercells.” Scientists don’t completely understand how or when tornados form, but they do know a supercell like this one can produce a twister if the conditions are right.

每年美国约有800个旋风,比世界上其他地方都多。受灾最严重的地区是从德克萨斯州到南达科他州之间的大平原带,该地区被称为“龙卷风走廊”。每当春夏,热空气从墨西哥湾上升,在这里与从加拿大南下的冷空气交锋,从而产生叫做“超 级单体”的强雷暴。科学家尚未完全清楚龙卷风是何时以及如何形成的,但他们知道,在合适的条件下,一个这样的超 级单体风暴可以形成龙卷风。

As warm, 6)moist air flows into a storm, it gets pushed up and 7)twisted by upper level winds. As this 8)rotating 9)column of air gathers force, conditions are right for a 10)collision below. When rain-cooled 11)downdrafts hit warm air near the ground, a low-hanging 12)revolving cloud forms beneath the cell: A tornado is 13)imminent.

暖湿空气流入风暴以后便会抬升,并受到上层气流的影响而扭曲。随着这条旋转空气柱的力量逐渐加强,下部发生冲撞的条件也成熟了。当受到雨水冷却的下沉气流碰上地面附近的暖空气时,超 级单体下方就会形成一种在低空旋转的云。这时,龙卷风一触即发。

Tornados don’t last long—anywhere from 20 seconds to an hour, but it can take years to recover from the devastation. These storms kill nearly 90 people each year in the US and cause millions of dollars worth of damage. When a tornado is spotted, experts advise going to a basement, staying away from any windows, or climbing into a first-floor 14)bathtub.


While most people run for safety when a twister appears, some scientists actually race to meet it. These storm chasers hunt down tornados trying to get right in the twister’s path. They 15)encounter incredible cloud movement, 16)torrential rain, 17)severe winds and 18)hail, lightning, and breathtaking storm structures. When they finally locate a twister, they measure it using special tools. These scientists hope to, someday, predict exactly when and where tornados will strike.


Little can prevent the damage caused by tornados, but better forecasting could save more lives, giving survivors the chance to rebuild after living through one of the most violent storms on earth.


Storm Chasers


Everybody has a passion for something. It just so happens that mine is chasing tornados.


Scientist: Let’s go. Let’s go. It’s got one more.


My name is Tim Samaras. I work for a company called 19)Applied Research 20)Associates. I’m a senior engineer. By me developing these 21)probes, I was actually able to mix my engineering background with my storm chasing. Now I get to go out and follow my passion. And everybody should follow their passions; they really should.


These probes are very sophisticated. There’s some other equipment out there that measures the tornados, such as the 22)Doppler radar. They only measure the upper part of the tornado. Nobody has really gotten down and looked at the bottom part of the tornado where it really does the damage; say from the ground up to 30 feet. That’s where all the houses get destroyed or cars get picked up and lives are lost.


I think it’s very important to have the best technology I can get or design to do what I have to do. You only get one chance when you’re in the path of the tornado. The equipment has to work and it has to work correctly.


On June 24th, 2003, we were in southeast South Dakota.


Broadcast: This is a dangerous storm. Take 23)shelter immediately.


We were driving through rain. I was using GPS注. And then, when the rain stopped and the 24)wipers 25)flicked off the last few drops of rain, this beast of a tornado just appeared.


We stopped in its path very briefly. When we got out, we could…we could hear the tornado; it was nearly a 26)deafening 27)roar. It sounded like a waterfall powered by a jet engine. To be there and watch this thing—watch mother nature 28)unfolding—and you don’t know what it’s going to do. Is it going to continue to grow? You just don’t know. But, I have to get close to a tornado, so that I can get the best readings that I can with the tools I have.


We were just a half a mile west of Manchester.


And, as the tornado 29)tore through Manchester, there was a house on the west side of town that got caught on the outer edge of the tornado. I’m thinking it probably took five seconds, maybe ten seconds for that tornado to completely destroy that house and wipe it clean.


The pieces of the puzzle that I bring, by the data we collect in the probes, helps us understand some of the 30)dynamics of tornados. And what that means to the farmers? Maybe a little extra 31)lead time. But more importantly, if we knew a lot of that data, maybe we can improve on building of a house. Maybe we can keep the roof on just a little bit longer, and if we keep the roof on a little longer, then chances of survival are much higher. I’m hoping that some of this data will be put to good use. It already has. It already has.



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