Tornadoes: How Do they Work?
What are they?
A tornado, often called a twister, is a rapidly circulating column of air extending from the clouds of a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can create winds exceeding 300 miles per hour; though, even much slower winded tornadoes can cause destruction.
While, most often, tornadoes last only a few minutes and do not travel much more than a mile before they disappear, others grow to massive sizes and travel for several miles, causing widespread devastation to communities.
What causes them?
Tornadoes spawn out of severe thunderstorms as warm, moist air and cool, dry air is combined. As these 2 air types collide, an instability is created. As a change in wind direction takes place, coupled with an increase in wind speed, a horizontal spinning effect begins in the lower atmosphere. Then, as air rises toward the sky, the horizontal rotating winds become vertical, thus creating the tornadoes we all recognize.