A tornado is a violent rotating column of air descending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The fury and tremendous destructive power of tornadoes is unmatched. They are strong enough to demolish large buildings, uproot trees, destroy electric poles and even hurl vehicles hundreds of yards.
How do tornadoes form?
Tornadoes are formed several thousand feet above the earth's surface inside of a severe rotating thunderstorm. This kind of storm is known as a supercell thunderstorm, spinning of which are visible via Doppler radar.
What is a supercell thunderstorm?
A supercell is an organized thunderstorm containing very strong and rotating updrafts. This rotation is responsible for severe weather events such as large hail, heavy showers and tornadoes. These storms are rare but whenever they develop, a huge threat to life and property is the outcome.
How furious are tornadoes?
The paths of a tornado could range from 100 yards to 2.6 miles. They can last from several seconds to even more than an hour. Usually tornadoes are around 10 minutes long. Most tornadoes travel from the southwest to the northeast direction with an average speed of 30 mph.
Where do tornadoes occur?
Tornadoes can occur on every continent except Antarctica. In the United States, the vast majority of tornadoes occur in the Tornado Alley but they can occur nearly anywhere in North America.
They also occasionally occur in south-central and eastern Asia, northern and east-central South America, Southern Africa, northwest and southeast Europe, western and southeastern Australia and New Zealand.
When do tornadoes occur?
Peak months of tornado activity in the U.S. are April, May and June. Nevertheless, tornadoes have occurred in every month and at all times of the day or night.
What causes tornadoes?
Tornadoes form under particular weather conditions in which three very different types of air come together in a certain way. At times, near the ground lies a layer of warm and humid air, accompanied by strong winds. Cool and strong winds lie in the upper atmosphere. Temperature and moisture differences between the surface and the upper levels create what we call instability, which is the most necessary ingredient for tornado formation.