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What is the bottom end of a tornado called?

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What was inside the mouth of the tornado?

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Why did Will Keller’s family go into a tornado shelter?


Inside a Tornado

Will Keller risked his life to watch a tornado in Kansas in 1928.


Will Keller thought it was a tornado. He had seen the tall tower of wind spinning across the fields. Keller knew that the tall funnel shape meant big trouble. He yelled to his wife and kids to get down into the tornado cellar as fast as they could. The tornado cellar was an underground shelter that Keller had built. It was just a few yards from the house.  It was similar to the one in this picture.

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The family ran for the cellar. Keller planned to follow them and pull the door shut behind him. But he stopped to watch as the tornado came closer. He saw that there were three tornadoes — not just one. The two smaller tornadoes were twisting around in the sky like giant ropes.

The big tornado hung down right in the center of a huge storm cloud. The tornado had already torn a wide path through Keller's fields, and now the mouth of the tornado began to lift up off the ground.


That mouth will pass right over us Keller thought. I have to watch!  Keller held on to the cellar door as the storm came closer. In a few seconds, the shaggy end of the funnel hung right over his head. Suddenly, everything was as still as death. Keller could hardly breathe.


Then a screaming hiss came from the end of the funnel. Keller was looking straight up into the tornado.

What did Keller see up there?


What Keller saw was amazing. Around the inside edges of the big tornado, small tornadoes were always forming and breaking away.  The small tornadoes looked like the tails of giant rats. Keller thought that these tails were making the hissing noise that he heard inside the tornado. 


A tornado is a spinning tower of very fast wind that moves along the ground. Tornadoes usually happen during thunderstorms.

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