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How does a Tornado Start?



Heat rises, so cold air usually goes beneath warm air. When cold air goes over hot air, a tornado can possibly begin to start. If the hot air rushes upward at great speed, a tornado will occur. A tornado’s speed can reach a whopping 250 miles per hour. Tornadoes are most common in the Midwestern states, but they can happen anywhere.



Before a thunderstorm develops, a change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed create an invisible, horizontal spinning effect which is located in the lower atmosphere. The warm air that is rushing upward in a cumulo-nimbus causes a deadly storm to begin. The storm begins to suck everything in its path. Most of the air is moving upwards, but one current of air moves downward in the center of the tornado. The rotation of the storm can be 2-6 miles


There are certain devices that watch for tornadoes for us. Meteorologists rely on weather radars to help keep watch of storms. If there is a threat of a tornado, they will inform the public as soon as possible. This is called a tornado warning. Doppler radars across the country are used to detect air movement toward or away from the radar. Early detection of increasing rotation during a thunderstorm can allow people to know that there is a chance of a tornado being formed.  These Doppler radars allow lifesaving warnings to be issued before the tornado forms.

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 Sources: A Child’s first Library of Learning. Time-Life Books _Science Starter. Alexandria, Virginia 1989.