How Does a Tornado Work?


Quick Answer

A tornado works by spiraling energy that moves in one direction, which draws in other particles to move in that spiral as well. Eventually, there is enough energy in the spiral to create a tornado or vortex of wind.

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Full Answer

The way a tornado works is through the movement of wind. Most of Earth's wind patterns are dictated by low-pressure centers that draw in cool, high-pressure air from the area surrounding it. Due to the airflow, low-pressure air gets pushed up to higher altitudes, but then the air gets heated and it is pushed upward even further by the air behind it. The air pressure in a tornado can be 10 percent lower than the surrounding air, which causes the surrounding air to rush into the tornado at a fast rate.

Tornadoes aren't the only phenomena that are created through spiraling energy. There are other conditions that are the result of particles moving in such a pattern. For example, dust devils can be created when wind moves over a hot desert, and wildfires can even create flaming, rising vortices called fire whirls. Even on other planets and stars, tornadoes are common occurrences. In fact, scientists have observed solar tornadoes on the sun.

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