Tornado Warning!

a Webquest for Science, Language, History and Math
at Mt. Zion CUSD #3


Tornadoes represent one of the most destructive forces in nature. Each year tornadoes cause the loss of many lives and contribute to millions of dollars in property damage in the United States alone. In fact, more tornadoes occur in the United States than in any other country around the world.

The Task:

On April 19, 1996, Central Illinois was bombarded with a multitude of tornadoes and a number of communities were devastated in this area. Many claimed that the warning systems were not sufficient in providing notice to these communities of the severe weather that followed.

You are an Insurance Investigator for the Bad Times Insurance Company. In fact, it is your company who had insured most of the devastated families. Due to the great cost of insuring these families your insurance company has decided to investigate this event in order to try to gain a better understand of tornadoes in order to help reduce their future costs.

As an insurance investigator for Bad Times Insurance Company you have been assigned to a group of individuals who are to write a research report to be presented to Mr. Big, the president of the insurance company. In this report it is your job to answer the following questions.

  • What are tornadoes, and how do they form?
  • From what type of storms do tornadoes of this magnitude form?  Are there other types of storms?
  • What were the specifics of these storms? (Example: wind speed, damage, hail size, etc)
  • What is a supercell? Fugita Scale?
  • What should people do during a tornado watch? 
  • What should people do during a tornado warning?
  • What are some common myths about tornadoes?

Also, your group of investigators are to create a good will poster informing people what they are to do in the event of a tornado in their area or some common myths about tornadoes and the truth about them.

The Process:

You will work alone on this Webquest.

  • Keep in mind that you will need to answer the key questions when writing the report.
  • You will need to follow the instructions provided in class related to the length of the report, etc...
    • Key points include the report should be at least one and a half pages typed using 11 point font, times new roman, double spaced, and normal margins.There should be introductory and closing paragraphs with appropriate sentence structure and grammar.


This extra credit project is due on, or before, Friday, May 12, 2006.


The following is a list of Internet resources that can be used to complete this project. In addition to the Internet links below you can use any book or magazine in your classroom or library to help you gather information.

The Central Illinois Cases April 19, 1996

Questions to be answered at this site include:

  • What is a supercell storm?
  • What is a multicell storm?
  • What is a wall cloud?
  • What type of weather conditions were present on April 19, 1996 to warrant tornadoes?
  • Viewing the damage done that evening, what would we rate these storms on the Fugita Scale?

The Tornado Project

Questions to be answered at this site include:
  • What should we do in the case of a tornado warning? What shouldn't we do?
  • Information on the classification and occurrence of tornadoes.
  • What are some common myths about tornadoes?


Your project will be evaluated on the following criteria:
  • Is your report and good will poster clear and concise?
  • Did you accurately include all the information requested?
  • Are drawings, photographs and graphs clear and used appropriately for the subject?
  • Did you follow all instructions provided in class about how to complete this Webquest?


While exploring this activity on tornados, I hope you've had fun, learned, and most importantly connected with some part of this topic.

There are several benefits that I hope you will obtain from this unit. One is that you will gain a better understanding of tornadoes, how they form and precautions related to their occurrence. An additional benefit is that I hope you will be better able to carry out your own research using the Internet. 

Note to the Teacher:

The teacher will need to provide information to the students about how to write the report and good will poster.