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What is a Tornado?

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by

Sarah Todd

on 4 November 2014

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Transcript of What is a Tornado?

What is a Tornado?
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a
cumulonimbus cloud.
Most tornadoes take on the appearance of a narrow funnel, a few hundred yards across, with a small cloud of debris near the ground. Tornadoes may be obscured completely by rain or dust. These tornadoes are especially dangerous, as even experienced meteorologists might not see them. Tornadoes can appear in many shapes and sizes.
A waterspout is defined by the National Weather Service as a tornado over water. A multiple-vortex tornado is a type of tornado in which two or more columns of spinning air rotate around a common centre.
The US has the most tornadoes of any country. This is mostly due to the unique geography of the continent. In the middle latitudes, where most tornadoes of the world occur, the Rocky Mountains block moisture and buckle the atmospheric flow, forcing drier air at mid-levels of the troposphere, and causing the formation of a low pressure area downwind to the east of the mountains. Increased westerly flow off the Rockies force the formation of a dry line when the flow aloft is strong, while the Gulf of Mexico fuels abundant low-level moisture in the southerly flow to its east. This unique topography allows for frequent collisions of warm and cold air, the conditions that breed strong, long-lived storms throughout the year.
Tornadoes
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