Q:

What is a tornado?

A:

Quick Answer

According to The Weather Channel, a tornado is "a violently rotating column of air that stretches from a cloud to the Earth's surface." The source also states that tornadoes are "the most destructive of all storm-scale atmospheric phenomena." Often forming from a thunderstorm, tornadoes also result from hurricanes.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Wind velocity inside the tornado ranges from less than 100 miles per hour to more than 250 miles per hour. More than two-thirds of tornadoes are considered weak, with wind speeds slower than 115 miles per hour and lasting 10 minutes or less. About 29 percent of tornadoes are classified as strong, with wind speeds of 110 to 205 miles per hour and lasting up to 20 minutes or longer. Only 2 percent of tornadoes bear the label of violent. These are capable of lasting an hour or even longer and are responsible for 70 percent of all deaths due to tornadoes.

Learn more about Storms
Sources:

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do tornadoes work?

    A:

    The natural forces that form a tornado involve a rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm cloud to the surface of the ground. These rotating forces tend to be violent due to their intense speed.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a common description of a tornado?

    A:

    A tornado is most distinguishable from other types of storms by its tall, rotating funnel that extends down from a dark cloud known as a cumuliform cloud. The bottom of the funnel contacts the ground, and the fast rotations of the funnel destroy anything in the tornado's path.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What happens during a tornado?

    A:

    Tornadoes form out of thunderstorms, where moist air rises, cools and condenses into clouds that release heat and force cooler air back down. If the updrafts are strong enough, the feedback loop forms an air vortex that continues to shunt more moist air upwards and eventually forms a tornado.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What causes a tornado to form?

    A:

    According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, tornadoes form when warm air creates a rotating updraft in a powerful thunderstorm. When winds blow in sharply different directions or at different speeds in these storms, they can set up a rotation that feeds on itself, creating a condition called a mesocyclone. When this construct rotates and touches the ground, it becomes a tornado.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore