What You Need to Know About Tornadoes

What You Need to Know About TornadoesFrom Comstock Images / Jupiterimages

Why do some thunderstorms spawn deadly columns of wind while others simply leave us drenched?

Anatomy of a Tornado
From storm to major event: how havoc happens

1. Warm, moist air at the surface rises rapidly, creating an updraft.

2. Falling rain evaporates, cooling the air around it.

3. The wall cloud rotates as it’s hit with winds from opposite directions.

4. As the rotation intensifies, a visible funnel drops out of the clouds.

5. A prominent overshooting top forms when the updraft is very strong.

6. Powerful updrafts give hail time to form.

7. A dust shroud is kicked up by the tornado’s strong winds at ground level.

8. Central downdrafts appear in some tornadoes.

Next: The role of global warming »

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