The Fundamentals of Tornadoes

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The swiftness, beauty, and absolute daunting sight of tornadoes have haunted minds and pulled at the curiosity of many. As Mother Nature’s fiercest windstorms, tornadoes do not simply lift you up and transport you to the magical Land of Oz. Rather, they habitually throw you around like a rag doll leaving a disaster behind them. Interestingly enough, tornadoes are yet to be fully understood. We know what a tornado is and how it forms but why it forms under various circumstances and not others is still under scrutiny. According to Ahrens (2009), a tornado is defined as, “A rapidly spinning column of air that blows around a small area of intense low pressure coming from the base of a thunderstorm to the earth’s surface” (p. 394). Tornadoes can form in one of two ways either through a supercell thunderstorm or through a nonsupercell thunderstorm (Ahrens, 2009). A supercell thunderstorm forms when the ground grows warmer in spring and summer and the air further above the ground is cold (Ahrens, 2009). Warm air near the surface rises, as it cools the water vapor it carries condenses forming cumulus clouds and eventually form into cumulonimbus clouds (Ahrens, 2009). Winds near the surface blow in one direction while the winds further up blow in another; the difference creates a horizontally rotating mass of air (Ahrens, 2009). Rising warm air pushes the horizontally rotating air upright therefore, creating a mesocyclone which usually extends 2-6 miles in width (Nation Severe Storms Laboratory [NSSL], 1992). These rotating updrafts define a supercell thunderstorm and set the stage for possible tornadoes (Ahrens, 2009). Tornadoes generally occur in the aft portion of a supercell thunderstorm (Ahrens, 2009). This is said be caused when ... ... middle of paper ... ...nadoes will continue to be unpredictable. Works Cited Ahrens, C. D. (2009). Meteorology Today: An Introduction to Wather, Climate, and the Enviroment (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage. Knight, M. (2007, 06 14). Fact or Fiction?: If the Sky Is Green, Run for Cover—A Tornado Is Coming: Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar ticle.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-if-sky-is-green-run-for-cover-tornado-is-coming Nation Severe Storms Laboratory (1992, 09). Tornadoes. Retrieved from: http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/edu/safety/tornadoguide.html National Severe Storm Laboratory (2009, 07 20). Tornado Basics Retrieved from: http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/primer/tornado/tor_basics.html# Smith, R. (1996, 02 15). Non-Supercell Tornadoes: A Review for Forecasters. Retrieved from: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/topics/attach/html/ssd96-8.htm

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