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How is a tornado formed?

How is a tornado formed?
It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

Destructive like no other meteorological phenomena, tornadoes and tornadoes can form in seconds and change direction in the blink of an eye. In essence, both of these phenomena operate on the same mechanics, and differ only in scale and power. A tornado is a milder form of tornado. Find out how it forms!

A tornado is a meteorological phenomenon. It is a whirlwind, or column of air. The characteristic feature of a tornado is its rapid rotation around its own axis, which is relatively stable. Such a phenomenon occurs when a difference in velocity is created between two areas in a moving air mass and causes turbulence. Air vortices occur in all parts of the planet and at all times of the year. They have also been observed on other planets

Mechanism of tornado formation

The friction of air against the ground or the disturbance of this by small obstacles contribute to the formation of numerous vortices, which can be several decimeters in diameter. Tornadoes become visible because they lift dust, which reveals the swirling motion and the existence of an axial zone. Large tornadoes can be as large as a few tens of meters in diameter, and cyclones are as large as 100 km in diameter. Thus, large cyclonic disturbances are giant vortices thousands of kilometers in diameter

The formation of tornadoes still carries many unknowns for the scientists and meteorologists who study them. What we do know, however, is that a series of special meteorological conditions must exist for them to form. A sequence of specific events must occur for a tornado or tornado to form

  1. A tornado forms when two air currents, one cold and one hot, converge horizontally. During this meeting, the hot air, which should be above the cold air, is trapped in the lower plane, causing the two currents to flow at different heights, parallel and in opposite directions.
  2. When the time comes, the stream of cold and dry air begins to fall, and the other, warmer and more moist air rises, producing a current in the form of a rotating air mass.
  3. As the process continues, this air vortex gains speed.
  4. The hot air then continues to rise as the cold air descends, raising the vortex to a vertical position.
  5. As the cold air sinks down the sides of the peak, the flow of hot air trapped beneath it finds its way back to the top, so it begins to rise vertically in a more violent and massive way.
  6. This displacement creates a suction effect, which is why larger versions of tornadoes, or tornadoes, can lift vehicles and even houses, literally snatching them away.
  7. When both hot and cold airflows reach constant values, the winds inside a tornado can move at speeds of up to 480 kilometers per hour.

An interesting fact about tornadoes is that they also form on other planets. On Earth, they can form anywhere on the planet’s surface, during all seasons.

Photo by Romain Paget/Unsplash

What heralds the appearance of a tornado or windstorm?

Some tornadoes appear suddenly, surprising everyone around them. However, the following weather signs may indicate that a tornado is approaching:

  • dark or greenish skies,
  • low, large, dark clouds,
  • heavy hail,
  • a roar similar to the noise of a freight train.

If you see any of these harbingers and you are in a tornado-prone area, seek shelter immediately and stay tuned to your local radio or television station, weather radio, or check current weather forecasts and warnings online.

Where are tornadoes most commonly found?

The elemental power of tornadoes should not be underestimated, so it’s a good idea to find out where they can occur. The most common place to encounter this phenomenon is in the central part of the United States, in what is known as Tornado Alley. It includes the following states:

  • Kansas,
  • South Dakota,
  • Nebraska,
  • Iowa,
  • Texas.

In Europe, tornadoes are much rarer, but do occur in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. In Poland, mainly during the summer months, tornadoes can be found when hot tropical air masses can come into contact with a cold polar front

Main photo: Ralph W. Lambrecht/Pexels

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