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Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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What is a Tornado?

Tornadoes are usually recognizable by their funnel clouds. Typically, this dynamic, funnel-shaped cloud moves beneath the main storm system. Tornadoes have a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust, dirt, and debris that makes them visible almost all of the time. Tornadoes are known by a variety of names, including "whirlwind," "windstorm," "cyclone," "twister," and "typhoon," but they are the most dangerous atmospheric storm.

Formation of Tornadoes

During a supercell storm, the rotation is focused and lowered by downdraughts (descending currents of cold, dense air). In between the formation of tornadoes, rotation may become so concentrated that a narrow column of rapidly spinning air will form. When this violently revolving column of air reaches the ground, a tornado is formed. The presence of a condensation funnel- a funnel-shaped cloud that forms owing to the tornado vortex's much-lowered pressure- makes the tornado observable in the formation of tornadoes. The tornado's visibility may be aided by dust and other debris carried by the powerful winds.

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Cause of Tornado

When warm, moist air collides with cold, dry air, tornadoes emerge. Generally, thunderstorms form when cooler, denser air is pushed over warmer air which is the cause of tornadoes. Updrafts are caused by warm air rising through the cold air. Whenever the wind strength or direction changes, the updraft begins to rotate.

Effects of Tornado

Tornadoes in the United States do roughly $400 million of damage each year and kill about 70 people on average. Homes and businesses are torn apart by extremely violent winds. Winds may also rip the bark off trees, collapse bridges, topple trains, send automobiles and trucks flying, and suck all the water out of a riverbed.

Tornadoes and Severe Storms

Tornadoes are funnel-shaped rotating clouds that arise as a result of violent thunderstorms. They stretch from a thunderstorm to the ground with intense winds averaging 30 miles per hour. They can also accelerate from a standstill to 70 mph in a handful of seconds. Tornadoes in the United States are typically 500 feet across and move for five miles on the ground, with a thunderous roar akin to that of a freight train. 

Tornadoes and violent storms pose a threat to the affected regions. Strong wind gusts, lightning strikes, and flash floods are all part of these catastrophic storms. Tornadoes can strike with little or no warning, leaving victims with only seconds to seek shelter. People frequently suffer distresses as a result of tornadoes and severe storms' unpredictability. There are several adverse effects associated with tornadoes and severe storms.

Where do Tornadoes Occur?

The Great Plains of central America are home to the majority of tornadoes, providing a perfect setting for severe thunderstorm formation. Storms form when dry cold air coming south from Canada collides with warm moist air moving north from the Gulf of Mexico in this area, known as Tornado Alley. Tornadoes can occur at any time of year, but they are most common during the spring and summer months when thunderstorms are present. Tornadoes are most common in May and June.

Did you Know?

  • A tornado is a swirling, funnel-shaped cloud with whirling winds that can reach 300 mph that stretches from a thunderstorm to the ground.

  • Tornado damage tracks can be more than one mile broad and 50 miles long.

  • Once on land, tropical storms and hurricanes can be accompanied by tornadoes.

FAQs on Tornado

1. Explain the general reason why tornadoes occur?

Wind shear is one of the most well-known factors in tornado generation. The variation in direction and speed of the wind with height is known as wind shear. Within a storm, this can result in a horizontal spinning effect. According to the cause of tornadoes, when the rotating air of an updraft collides with the rotating air of a downdraft, the result is this famous and frightening funnel cloud of a tornado. When moist, warm air meets cool, dry air, this mix of winds is common. When these air masses collide, they cause instability in the atmosphere, allowing wind to change direction, flow faster, and rise higher, resulting in the above-mentioned rotation.

2. What do you mean by Tornado speed?

Tornadoes have a very high damage potential due to strong wind speeds of up to 500 km/h in the outer area and a massive depression in the center. A tornado has a diameter of 50 to 1,000 m (average 100 m) with a wind speed of more than 105 km/h on the Enhanced Fujita scale (EF) (EF0, see Table 1). Only supercell thunderstorms produce tornadoes of category EF3 or above, but weaker tornadoes can originate on the flanks of a squall line or during the impact of a hurricane. Because exact measurements are rarely available, the tornado speeds and hence the category are approximated from damage patterns on the ground. A mobile Doppler radar (DOW) in the United States recorded the fastest wind speed or tornado speed to date (480 km/h) (May 3, 1999, Oklahoma).