How are tornadoes formed


Tornadoes are extreme weather events that generate serious catastrophes with extensive damage to people and economic damage. Unique atmospheric conditions are needed to be able to generate these phenomena. Let's focus on learning How are tornadoes formed and what are its characteristics.

Therefore, in this article we are going to tell you how tornadoes form and what the consequences are.

What are they

How are tornadoes formed

A tornado is a mass of air that forms at a high angular velocity. The end of the tornado is between the earth's surface and cumulonimbus-like clouds. It is a cyclonic atmospheric phenomenon with a lot of energy, although they usually last a short time.

The resulting tornadoes can be of different sizes and shapes, and their duration is usually from a few seconds to more than an hour. The most famous form of tornado is a funnel-shaped cloud, its narrow end touches the ground and is generally surrounded by clouds that carry all the surrounding dust and debris.

Tornadoes can reach speeds of between 65 and 180 km / h and can reach a width of 75 meters. The tornado will not stop where it forms, but will pass through the territory. They usually travel several kilometers before disappearing.

The most extreme can have winds with speeds that can rotate at 450 km / h or more, measure up to 2 km wide and remain touching the ground for more than 100 km of route.

How are tornadoes formed

How a tornado form

Tornadoes originate from thunderstorms and are often accompanied by hail. To form a tornado, the conditions for the direction and speed of the storm must be met, thus producing a horizontal rotation effect. When this effect occurs, a vertical cone is created through which the air rises and rotates in the storm.

The meteorological phenomena that favor the appearance of tornadoes are more likely to occur during the day than at night (especially at dusk) and during the spring and fall seasons of the year. This means that tornadoes are more likely to form in the spring and fall and during the day - that is, they are more frequent during these times. However, tornadoes can occur at any time of the day and on any day of the year.

Tornado formation conditions

Aftermath of a tornado

To form a tornado, a large number of conditions must be met; fortunately there are too many, and fortunately they are so common.

  • A stream of cold air and another of warm air that converge horizontally.
  • When this encounter occurs, hot air, which should be higher than cold air, is trapped in a lower plane and causes two air currents to flow in parallel and opposite directions at different heights.
  • From there a stream of cold, dry air descends, while another stream of warmer, more humid air rises, creating a rotating tube-shaped stream of air.
  • The speed of this current increases as the process progresses. Hot air rises and cold air descends, causing the tornado to turn into an upright vortex.
  • When this vortex hits the ground, the current accelerates and produces a vortex in the shape of a top.
  • Cold air descends from the sides of the top and the flow of warm air trapped under the first layer finds a way to rise in the vortex. Therefore, it rises vertically with greater force and greater load.
  • Once a tornado forms and reaches its height and strength, It will produce an inhalation effect, which is why houses and houses along the route have absorption capacity.

Key features

The tornado is actually invisible, only when it carries the condensed water droplets from a humid air storm and the dust and debris on the ground, it turns gray.

Tornadoes are classified as weak, strong, or violent storms. Violent tornadoes make up only two percent of all tornadoes, but cause 70 percent of all deaths and it can last an hour or more. Among the damages caused by a tornado we find:

  • People, cars and entire buildings thrown through the air
  • Serious injuries
  • Deaths caused by hitting flying debris
  • Damages in agriculture
  • Destroyed homes

Meteorologists do not have as much facility in predicting tornadoes as hurricanes. However, by knowing the meteorological variables that determine the formation of a tornado, specialists can warn of the presence of a tornado well in advance to save lives. Nowadays the warning time for a tornado is 13 minutes.

Tornadoes can also be identified by some signs from the sky such as a sudden turning very dark and greenish in color, a large hailstorm, and a powerful roar like that of a locomotive.


These are the main types of tornadoes that exist:

  • Multiple vortex tornadoes. These are two or more columns of air revolving around a common axis, causing several vortices or cyclone "spikes" and usually smaller channels around the main axis.
  • Satellite tornado. Often confused with the situation above, these are two tornadoes (one large and one small) meeting or forming very closely together, whereby the smaller tornado swings or orbits the larger tornado as if it were a satellite.
  • Waterspout. Also called a water pipe, it is a tornado over the sea or a large area of ​​water. They can be tornadoes that form directly on water, or they can just hit it, but they are faster, stronger, and last longer than tornadoes on land.
  • Land Barrage: This is the name of tornadoes that do not have a half-cyclone on the ground, which makes them much weaker than cyclones, although they are not for that reason harmless. They tend to form a layer of dust around them.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about how tornadoes form and what their characteristics are.

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