If you watch FOX Weather coverage of severe weather events, you may hear the term "wedge" when describing a tornado.
With its menacing appearance and reputation for destruction, the wedge tornado has become one of the most feared.
While they may look scary, the term itself has no scientific meaning other than appearance.
"‘Wedge’ is informal storm observers' slang for a tornado which looks wider than the distance from the ground to ambient cloud base," the National Weather Service says.
Even when wedge tornadoes are not obscured by rainfall, they can be so enormous that people sometimes mistake them for low-hanging dark clouds rather than tornadoes.
Their ability to hide in plain sight makes them especially dangerous as they can seem to strike out of nowhere, catching people unprepared.
Some of the most notable and deadly tornadoes in U.S. history have been wedges, many of which produced EF-4 to EF-5 damage on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
However, not all violent tornadoes appear as wedges, and whether a tornado achieves wedge status depends on several factors other than intensity.
"A tornado's size does not necessarily indicate anything about its strength," the National Weather Service says.
True wedge tornadoes are very rare, but when they do occur, major damage is almost always guaranteed.
Violent tornadoes can form quickly, so make sure to download the FOX Weather app and turn on your notifications for alerts about severe weather threats in your area.