Why Do Tornadoes Have Such High Wind Speeds?


Quick Answer

Tornadoes have high wind speeds because there is an enormous pressure gradient within the funnel. As winds flow from high-pressure to low-pressure areas, the intensity of the difference in pressure leads to higher wind speeds. Strong tornadoes can reach wind speeds of up to 300 miles per hour.

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Why Do Tornadoes Have Such High Wind Speeds?
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Full Answer

A tornado forms when strong updrafts create an area of horizontal rotation inside a supercell thunderstorm. Increasing rainfall on the rear side of the thunderstorm creates a downdraft. This downdraft can pull the rotation down to form a vertical vortex. As it spins, it wraps itself in cloud layers, forming the traditional funnel shape. The speed of the rotation can intensify as the tornado grows in strength, increasing the pressure differential and the resulting winds.

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