Tornados can produce a sound that most humans can’t hear but may still react to negatively. Known as “infrasound,” the low-frequency noise is below frequency range of human hearing, typically less than 20 hertz. (The typical range for human hearing runs from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (20 kHz).) Tornadoes produce infrasound when strong winds vibrate the ground and nearby objects, such as buildings and trees.
Tornados and infrasound
While the sound itself is not audible to the human ear, it can still have an effect on the body. Some people report feeling a sense of unease or even fear when they are in the presence of a tornado, and researchers believe that the infrasound may be partially responsible for this phenomenon.
Interestingly, the infrasound produced by tornadoes is similar to the sound produced by some musical instruments, such as pipe organs and bass drums. In fact, some composers have used the infrasound produced by tornadoes and other natural phenomena in their musical compositions. While the sound of a tornado may be unsettling to some, it is a fascinating example of the power and complexity of nature.
Do other phenomena produce infrasound?
Exposure to infrasound has been reported to cause both physiological and psychological effects. People have reported nausea, dizziness, headaches, and anxiety after being exposed to infrasound. It has also been linked to a range of paranormal and supernatural experiences, such as ghost sightings and feelings of unease in haunted places even if people can’t actually hear the noise.
Infrasound is also produced by other natural and man-made sources. These include earthquakes, ocean waves, thunderstorms, large machinery, air conditioning units, and some types of music.
Many animals are known to use infrasound for communication and navigation. Infrasound is also being studied for its potential therapeutic applications, such as reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
Source: “Infrasonic Detection of Tornadoes and Tornadic Storms” — NOAA