Can a tornado actually “hop” over things so that one place may be damaged but a place right next to it may not be?

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Dear Tom,
It is my understanding that a tornado can actually “hop” over things so that one place may be damaged but a place right next to it may not be.

Karen Butler

Dear Karen,
This is a popular belief, but it is not true. Tornadoes can vary in intensity over very short distances, causing damage in one spot, weakening and doing no damage, then intensifying again, and so on. In addition, many tornadoes contain much smaller (diameters of 40 feet or less) but more violent vortexes within the larger tornado circulation. These vortexes produce narrow paths of extreme destruction within the larger tornado. Finally, multiple tornadoes sometimes occur with short separation but those occurrences are erroneously classified as a single tornado.

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