Tornadoes: Mother Nature’s Most Kept Secret

1681 words - 7 pages

On May 20th, 2013 a EF 5 tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma and surrounding towns, with a path as wide as 1.3 miles wide (2.1 km) and had a wind speed, estimated at its peak, of 210 miles per hour (340 km/h). Killing 24 people, and injuring 377, this was one of the United States worst tornadoes in the past few years, along side the Joplin, Missouri tornado, in 2011. One of Mother Nature’s most dangerous and still very mysterious phenomenons averages about 1,200 reported each year, resulting in 80 deaths and injuring 1500. With very little known about them, especially whether or not they will form is one of the questions that plague meteorologist to this very day. What causes tornadoes, how does the ...view middle of the document...

). A waterspout is an intense columnar vortex that happens over bodies of water. Waterspouts are generally classified as non-supercellular tornadoes, and are a topic of disagreement on whether or not to classify them as a true definition of tornadoes. Tornadoes can be found on every continent except Antarctica, although the mass majority occur in “Tornado Alley,” in the United States of America. "Tornado Alley” is made up of the Midwest region with the states; Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, at its core.
For a tornado to form there needs to be a thunderstorm, some tornado-like phenomena(such as dust devils, steam devils, firewhirls, and gustnados.) can form without thunderstorms, but they are not classified as true tornadoes. The process that gives birth to a tornado is many steps, but they happen in either a long or short time from the very first step. The main ingredients for a tornado are; a cumulonimbus cloud, warm moist air, cold dry air, a thunderstorm, mesocyclone, and a downward suction of air. Cumulonimbus clouds are a cloud of a class indicative of thunderstorm conditions, characterized by large, dense towers that often reach altitudes of 30,000 feet (9000 meters) or more. As further uplifting occurs, the cloud extends higher, as the cloud extends the water droplets continue to grow in size.
Thunderstorms are defined as a transient storm of lightning and thunder, usually with rain and gusty winds, sometimes with hail or snow, produced by cumulonimbus clouds. Once cumulonimbus clouds accumulate more rain droplets than the underlying air can hold, they fall as rain.
Once a thunderstorm is produced, they form a vortex(thunderstorms don’t always form a vortex but one is need for a tornado.), called a mesocyclone. Once a mesocyclone is produced it has about a thirty minute window and a fifty percent chance become a tornado. As rainfall from the storm increases, a downward suction can form to pull the mesocyclone down to the ground where it becomes a true full-blown tornado.
Tornadoes are formed when different temperatures and humidity meet. In the United States, during spring and summer, the winds that form them are coming from the Gulf of Mexico’s warm moist winds that travel north, where they meet Canada’s cold dry winds, travelling south. Normally, the warm winds would rise, but the cold winds can trap the warm winds underneath, which can cause the warm winds to rotate since they can’t move upward. While the sun heats up the ground, more warm moist air rises until it is strong enough to push through the barrier of cold dry air. As the warm moist air pushes its ways through the cold dry air barrier, it pushes the cold dry air beneath it. Which forms a rotating column within the thunderstorm, that can span a width of 10 miles, whilst twisting at speeds that can top 200 miles per hour. The rotating mass of air can remain unseen until it picks up enough dust and debris for it to be visible (note: the rotating mass of air must...

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