How Do Tornadoes Work?


Quick Answer

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.

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How Do Tornadoes Work?
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Full Answer

A tornado in its purest form would not be visible due to the fact that it is constituted entirely of circulating winds. The reason that tornadoes are visible in nature, however, is due to the fact that these winds pick up dust and debris when they touch the ground. Also, a condensation funnel forms around a tornado from the moisture and water droplets emanating from the same thunderstorm cloud that spawned it. Tornadoes spin cyclonically. This means that in the northern hemisphere, they spin counter-clockwise. In the southern hemisphere, they spin clockwise.

The average size of a tornado is 500 feet across. The average distance travelled by a tornado before dissipating is 5 miles. Tornadoes much larger than this can form. Such specimens can be more than a mile across and travel for distances exceeding 100 miles before dissipating.

Approximately 1,200 tornadoes strike the United States each year. That is the highest concentration of occurrences for any country on Earth.

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