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Which areas around the world are most prone to tornadoes?


While there is no land on Earth that has as many tornadoes as the Great Plains to the Mississippi Valley of North America, they can happen almost anywhere when conditions are right.

Severe thunderstorms can spawn tornadoes when a mass of unstable air is present, often when warm and cold air clash. Enough moisture must also be available for a tornado to form. When winds change direction or speed with height, then conditions are ripe for tornado development.

Since the United States isn't the only country that has the key ingredients and topography to create these life-threatening twisters, other countries can also endure tornadoes.

Italy, France, Spain, India and Brazil are among the countries that get twisters, typically on a yearly basis. Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Germany can be added to the list of countries that have reported tornadoes.

According to Dr. Harold Brooks, senior research scientist with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, the location which gets the most tornadoes outside of the U.S., other than the part of the southern Canadian plains, is an area in South America. The region includes southern Brazil, northeastern Argentina, Uruguay and southeastern Paraguay.

China Tornado

A firefighter walks past a damaged building in Funing county in Yancheng city in eastern China's Jiangsu Province Friday, June 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Traynor)


"Bangladesh is another area that can get violent tornadoes, and there's a large, lower-grade threat in a large area of Europe from northern France through into Russia," Brooks said.

Experts say the deadliest tornado in world history appears to be the Bangladeshi tornado of April 26, 1989, due to extremely high population density and poor construction.

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EF4 damage in the foreground at Waterford Square Apartments. These are remains from a completely destroyed apartment building, similar to the ones seen in the background. (Photo/NOAA's photo library)


"Bangladesh and nearby North East India are notorious for occasional big, powerful and very deadly twisters, especially in April. An April 26, 1989, tornado was reported to have killed about 1,300 people in the Manikganj district of Bangladesh," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.

While rare, tornadoes have even occurred in Middle Eastern countries like the United Arab Emirates, according to Andrews.

"European Russia had a big, deadly outbreak of tornadoes back the 1980s, and Argentina had a big, destructive outbreak around that time," Andrews said.

A big country like Russia, China or Australia has more land for tornadoes to touch down, which is why those locations are likely to have one in any given year. However, each country has regions where tornado development is more common, similar to the U.S.

Bangladesh Tornado

Bangladeshis walk past an area affected by a deadly tornado at Brahmanbaria district, Bangladesh, Saturday, March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)


"Italy has a large number of non-super-cellular tornadoes in the peninsular region. They do get supercell tornadoes in the Po Valley," Brooks said.

Tornadoes can spin in opposite directions. According to Andrews, most Southern Hemisphere tornadoes spin clockwise, whereas they normally spin counter-clockwise on the northern side of the equator. There are unusual exceptions to the rule.

"Although tornadoes can turn either direction, super-cellular tornadoes in the Northern Hemisphere tend to be anticlockwise and Southern Hemisphere clockwise," Brooks said.

Countries around the world have a variety of different names for tornadoes. The Netherlands has Windhoos, which literally means wind hose, according to Brooks.

Regardless of the country, always heed storm or tornado-related warnings, since a tornado can form anywhere if conditions are right.