Tornadoes are formed when hot air and cold air meet in a powerful storm, and the warm air begins spiralling upward, creating a funnel cloud. This funnel cloud forces objects on the ground and in the air around and upward, and can be strong enough to uproot trees, move cars and tear apart buildings. This extremely energetic air current is part of a special, very tall storm called a supercell.Continue Reading
The supercells that make tornadoes form when a large mass of cold air moves over a large mass of warm air. This situation is highly unstable, because the warm air is lighter than the cold air. The greater the temperature difference, the more unstable the situation. Winds are generated as the warm air moves up and through the cold air and the cold air moves down and around the warm air. If the warm air contains a large amount of water vapor, it tends to condense into clouds as it moves up and cools.
When this movement of warm air upward is energetic enough, the moving air starts to twist on its way up, creating the potential for a funnel cloud. These funnel clouds are the effect of rapidly moving and spinning warm air and condensing water vapor going upward and spiraling.Learn more about Storms
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 >
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 >
In theory, a tornado can happen during a snowstorm, but it is not likely as they require warm and humid air colliding with a cold front. Tornadoes can and do, however, occur immediately following a snow storm or when snow is still on the ground.Full Answer >
Most tornadoes are created as a result of thunderstorms that form at the meeting point between humid air from the Gulf of Mexico and dry, cooler air from Canada. At that point, instability occurs in the atmosphere, and altering wind directions and a boost in speed makes for a spinning in the lower part of the atmosphere. When rising air makes the rotation vertical, creating a circle that can be as wide as 6 miles, the stage is set for tornadoes to start forming.Full Answer >