Tornadoes happen when warm, moist air masses and cold, dry air masses collide to cause large thunderstorms. Not all thunderstorms produce tornadoes, and scientists are not certain which factors are directly responsible for their formation. They do know that in many cases, horizontal spinning movements in the air can be lifted vertically. Once vertical, its base may span up to three miles from one side to the other.Continue Reading
While tornadoes are theoretically possible in any thunderstorm, they are far more common in the United States and Canada than any other country. They are especially common in a narrow slice of land called Tornado Alley. Tornado alley includes part of Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, South Dakota and Oklahoma. The reason that so many tornadoes occur in this area is that the Gulf of Mexico and Canadian tundra are found at each end. The Gulf of Mexico provides a constant source of warm, wet air, while the air flowing in from Canada is almost always cold and dry. The two air masses often collide over Tornado Alley, causing the frequent tornadoes.
Tornadoes are one of the most destructive forces in nature, and they can cause widespread damage and casualties. Tornadoes are ranked via a scale called the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Some tornadoes have had winds that exceeded 300 miles per hour.Learn more about Storms
Although science is very advanced, there is not enough data to fully understand all the reasons behind tornado formation, but they are believed to occur when rotating thunderstorms form mesocyclones. Once the mesocyclone forms, temperature differentials cause air to wrap around it.Full Answer >
According to NOAA, most floods start with slow-moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms that travel the same path several days in a row, or hurricanes. Floating debris and ice sometimes form a temporary dam which causes the water to back up until the debris breaks free, releasing a wall of water and causing flooding downstream.Full Answer >
Hurricanes are massive storms made out of an organized series of thunderstorms that form over the ocean. Typhoons are the same as hurricanes, except they occur in a different part of the world. Tornadoes are smaller storms that usually form over land as a result of individual thunderstorms.Full Answer >
According to USA TODAY, the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms is determined by the probability of precipitation. If the chance of precipitation is less than 30 percent, then the National Weather Service forecasts isolated storms. If the chance is 30 to 50 percent, then scattered thunderstorms are the call.Full Answer >