Tornado_Notes - What is a tornado A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in the atmosphere which is in contact with the ground Tornadoes form

Tornado_Notes - What is a tornado A tornado is a violently...

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What is a tornado? - A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in the atmosphere which is in contact with the ground - Tornadoes form in association with rotating supercell thunderstorms, which often (but don’t always) form in association with a mid-latitude low pressure system - To generate and sustain a tornado, you need: - Instability - to create an environment capable of rapid rising motion - A trigger - to initiate rising motion in the atmosphere - Wind shear - to create spin (vorticity) necessary for a rotating thunderstorm and tornado Comparing hurricanes and tornadoes: triggers - Both need a trigger - some sort of organized feature in the atmosphere which helps to organize a region of rising air - Hurricanes: Recall triggers included the ITCZ, easterly waves, and cold fronts extending into the tropics - Thunderstorms (necessary for a tornado) also need a trigger, including cold or warm fronts, dry lines, gust fronts, and high terrain Comparing hurricanes and tornadoes: wind shear - Wind shear is generally bad for a hurricane, but it is a key factor for supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes! Wind shear is needed to create a horizontal rolling column of air (high-vorticity air) in the region of a supercell - this is then tilted vertically by the updraft and can possibly become a tornado Comparing hurricanes and tornadoes: wind speeds and warning time - The strongest hurricanes have winds speeds which can approach that of an EF-3 or EF-
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  • Fall '12
  • JohnStix
  • Storm, Thunderstorm

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