What is Tornado: Definition and 44 Discussions

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the Earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. The windstorm is often referred to as a twister, whirlwind or cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology to name a weather system with a low-pressure area in the center around which, from an observer looking down toward the surface of the earth, winds blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern. Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, and they are often visible in the form of a condensation funnel originating from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud, with a cloud of rotating debris and dust beneath it. Most tornadoes have wind speeds less than 110 miles per hour (180 km/h), are about 250 feet (80 m) across, and travel a few miles (several kilometers) before dissipating. The most extreme tornadoes can attain wind speeds of more than 300 miles per hour (480 km/h), are more than two miles (3 km) in diameter, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles (more than 100 km).Various types of tornadoes include the multiple vortex tornado, landspout, and waterspout. Waterspouts are characterized by a spiraling funnel-shaped wind current, connecting to a large cumulus or cumulonimbus cloud. They are generally classified as non-supercellular tornadoes that develop over bodies of water, but there is disagreement over whether to classify them as true tornadoes. These spiraling columns of air frequently develop in tropical areas close to the equator and are less common at high latitudes. Other tornado-like phenomena that exist in nature include the gustnado, dust devil, fire whirl, and steam devil.
Tornadoes occur most frequently in North America (particularly in central and southeastern regions of the United States colloquially known as tornado alley), Southern Africa, northwestern and southeast Europe, western and southeastern Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh and adjacent eastern India, and southeastern South America. Tornadoes can be detected before or as they occur through the use of Pulse-Doppler radar by recognizing patterns in velocity and reflectivity data, such as hook echoes or debris balls, as well as through the efforts of storm spotters.

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  1. DaveC426913

    Tornado path visualization - what is this data?

    Does anyone have a clue what the gold points and associated lines represent? I notice that all the gold lines form closed loops (so they're not travel paths) and they cross themselves (so they're not contours). I can't think of any type of data that would result in this. I've tried to follow...
  2. A

    Tornado prediction or forecasting possible using Supercomputers?

    Can Tornado be predicted or forecasted using Supercomputers ? Thanks & Regards, Prashant S Akerkar
  3. WWJR

    B Can a Fire Tornado Flip an 8 Ton Truck?

    Posting from over here in Australia, we've been going through some nasty bushfires and on the news I saw a report of a fire truck that had a full tank of water get flipped on its side and resulting in one fire fighter losing his life - apparently a fire tornado flipped the truck. My question...
  4. G

    Tornado Biggest Lightning Thunder BOOM Explosion EVER

    I was a storm chaser for many years. I have seen 100s of tornadoes. I have seen all types of lightning, hail, wind, rain, etc. I thought I had seen it all until last night. Radar shows counter clock wise rotation moving east I appeared to me in the exact path. There were no lightning...
  5. Drakkith

    Why Is Tornado Alley a Hotspot for Twisters?

    For those of you not from the United States, tornado alley is a region of the U.S. where the majority of the world's tornadoes occur every year. The U.S. sees about 1200 tornadoes per year on average, with most of them occurring inside the region extending roughly from Texas northwards to...
  6. Z

    Tornadoes and angular momentum

    I explained this thinking to a meteorologist once and she couldn't give me an answer. Any physicists want to give it a shot? I find the typical explanation of tornadoes perplexing (that's a polite way of saying I don't believe it). The explanations I've seen claim that tornadoes start out...
  7. R

    B Trash Can Fire Tornado: Does It Really Happen?

    Why does this happen? When the trash can is not moving, the air gets drawn in through the mesh and flows more or less straight to the fire. I'm thinking that a rotating trashcan "pushes" the wind in the direction that it's rotating, so that the wind no longer blows towards the fire, but...
  8. F

    Could we stop a tornado this way?

    I've always had an idea as to how to stop tornado's, and this is my idea. The idea is that we use Jet engines mounted onto the back of trucks, or vehicles, that are capable of handling them, with them also able to handle large amounts of fuel. Jet engines are extremely powerful. The SR-71...
  9. Raptor112

    What is the expression for pressure distribution in a rotating tornado?

    Homework Statement A tornado rotates with constant angular velocity ##\omega## (i.e. like a solid object would rotate) and has a uniform temperature T. Find an expression for the outward pressure distribution in terms of the central pressure ##p_0##. Use this to calculate ##p_0## given that T =...
  10. T

    B Brian Greenes' Tornado Analogy

    On his book of the elegant universe when he was explaining the warping of spacetime he use an analogy of a toy called tornado. Basically a spinning machine like a merry go round. Anyway he said, let's give one ruler to the slim who is at the wall of the tornado,to measure the circumference...
  11. **Mariam**

    How Fast Does a Tornado Travel If Lightning Strikes Twice?

    Homework Statement Some tornado researchers see a faraway tornado moving straight toward them. They see a bolt of lightning from the cloud above the tornado and 20 seconds later hear thunder. Exactly 40 seconds after seeing the first lightning , they sees second bolt and hear the sound thunder...
  12. Dukon

    Collecting Tornado energy in order to dissipate it

    Would it be possible to Design a scientific apparatus to be deployed as a drone payload which when inserted alone or in concert with a fleet configuration, inside from the top or from the bottom or sides, absorbs energy from Tornados to dissipate it to prevent their formation Could tornado...
  13. nilesh_pat

    B Difference between a massive tornado and a black hole.

    What is the difference between a massive tornado and a black hole. With regards Nilesh
  14. B

    Aerospace Eng. Student Struggling with Blended Wing Body Design

    Hello everyone! I'm a aerospace engineering student. I'm working in my own program for blended wing body aircraft parameterized design. I'm triyed to use Tornado program but it doesn't even allow me to setup the geometry, after introducing the chord the program goes in a bucle and when I stop...
  15. S

    Estimate stopping force of roof versus tornado

    Problem statement In the not-so distant past, authorities recommended leaving the windows to a house open in a tornado to equalize the pressure and avoid blowing off the roof. We can estimate the validity of the advice. Assume the pressure inside the house is one atmosphere. Approximate...
  16. L

    Structure of orbits at a tornado, whrilwind, etc.

    Any sites showing the whole structure of direct orbits of air molecules inside and outside of any type of turbine? By "direct" orbits, I mean between the two successive clashes of each molecule with other molecules.
  17. Dotini

    Meteorological curiosity - "volcano tornado"

    Viewers will be amused at the slender vortex snaking 3300' above the Iceland volcano, seen here in infrared video. Said to be similar to a "fire tornado", the Icelandic Met Office officially refers to the strange phenomenon as "wind anomalies from thermal convection."...
  18. G

    Could dropping a massive plate thru the center of a tornado kill it?

    I was googling to see if a bomb could disrupt a tornado and I came across this thread here ( https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=692975 ) and I saw this graphic posted there (see attached thumbnail below). And it got me to wondering, if you made a giant, massive, strong metal plate...
  19. Mordred

    Solar Tornado Captured by NASA's SDO Probe

    Nice video of a solar tornado. http://www.space.com/25725-solar-tornado-video-nasa- spacecraft .html?cmpid=557583
  20. V

    What is the relationship between tornadoes and dew point?

    Homework Statement I am currently stuck on parts 2b,c and d of this problem. http://www.wopho.org/download/Theoretical_3_Tornado.pdf Homework Equations The Attempt at a Solution For part 2b, I use the the equation from part 2a and just integrate. I know that as we exit the tornado...
  21. S

    Can interior pressure of a tornado be calculated?

    Can the interior pressure of a tornado be calculated from the centrifugal speed of the tornado and its radius (centripetal force)? For example, given a tornado with a 1/2 mile radius and a centrifugal speed of 200 mph, how much would the interior air pressure be?
  22. Evo

    Oklahoma Tornado Video: Watch It Start

    This is the best video of the tornado, it shows it starting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMF22_MEMJU&feature=youtu.be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMF22_MEMJU
  23. D

    Is it Possible to Stop a Tornado with Explosives?

    I have an idea for you on defusing or dissipating tornados. I thought that a sufficiently large explosion at the right time and place in the interior of a tornado funnel about to touch down would force the tornado to collapse and render it harmless. It could be delivered by ballistic or cruise...
  24. Astronuc

    News Moore, OK Tornado: 51 Killed, More Feared Dead

    Massive tornado rips through Moore, Oklahoma; 51 killed, more feared dead http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/tornado-oklahoma-city-moore-205548879.html Apparently debris from Moore was carried to Tulsa. The tornado was preliminarily classified as EF4 (200 mph winds).
  25. T

    Calculating tangential velocity of an air parcel circulating a tornado

    Homework Statement If an air parcel 2000m from a tornado center has a tangential velocity of 10 m/s, what is the resultant tangential velocity if the parcel is 100m from the tornado center. Homework Equations v = rω, where r = radius, and ω = angular velocity ω = v/r The Attempt at...
  26. M

    Velocity and Vorticity of a Tornado Calculation

    Homework Statement A tornado: of d = 2r = 0.9 km r = radius vortic ity 9 rad/s at altitude 0.8 km What is the velocity at ground level given 2*pi*r = 95 m at that level. If someone could just guide me on what the relevant equations are. I am revisiting the background material but any...
  27. Andre

    Tornado Outlook for Saturday: 60% Probability in Eastern Nebraska

    Evo, Dlgoff Better recheck the shelters http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/ All the best.
  28. A

    Need help identifying the force on a roof as a tornado wind passes over it.

    Homework Statement In a tornado or hurricane, a roof may tear away from the house because of a difference in pressure between the air inside and the air outside. Suppose that air is blowing across the top of a 2200 ft2 roof at 136 mph. What is the magnitude of the force on the roof...
  29. Evo

    What Can You Do to Help Pets Affected by Natural Disasters?

    Even if you can't adopt one of these poor animals (owners are likely dead). You can always send donations. [PLAIN]http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/3605/tornadodoggie.jpg http://www.facebook.com/JoplinHumane#!/JoplinHumane?sk=photos...
  30. G

    How do I create a tornado figure using plot3 and comet3 commands?

    Homework Statement Hi, I'm taking Intro to Computing for Engr. and my highest level math course I have taken is Calculus I. I'm trying to solve this problem in my book for Intro to Computing for Engr. and believe that the math is over my head. This may well be the case. But sense this...
  31. Evo

    Tornado Hits Parking Lot - Watch the Video!

    Since I'm in a tornado watch area for today and tomorrow, thought I'd share this. The tornado hits right after the SUV pulls up about 58 seconds (if you are impatient). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xT9pfDVML8
  32. M

    Help solving Tornado Tree Problem in Alabama

    Howdy from the tornado ravaged state of Alabama. We've been going out with chainsaws for days on end trying to help anyone we can. This guy wants to get this tree down so his grand children won't get hurt. What is the safest way to do this? I only have about 10 hours to figure it out. I'm...
  33. M

    Designing a Tornado Machine

    Hoping one will look nice in my new living room, I want one constructed about 7 feet high. I think I understand the basics of how these machines work, but I'm wanting to change something. Most tornado machines you see produce mini twisters that are shaped with parallel sides- to where the...
  34. T

    Exploring the Possibility of a Black Hole Tornado

    I'm not well versed in math and have never even been in a physics classroom let alone taken a class. But, I do have a question. So no one, to my knowledge, knows exactly what's in the center of a black hole or how they really work. If you look at nature, many situations are simply carbon...
  35. B

    Could a hurricane or tornado have enough energy to create a worm hole

    Hello all, I am new here. I have a crazy question. Could a hurricane or tornado have enough energy to create a worm hole? Thanks Buster
  36. M

    Spinning tornado wheel - circumference and radius

    Spinning "tornado" wheel - circumference and radius Another quote from my current lecture "elgant universe": Page 63, 3rd Paragraph This doesn't make much sense to me. While I can comprehend that the ruler must be shortened as it's layed out tagentially to the circumference, as it's moving...
  37. D

    During a tornado, softer objects are driven through apparently harder objects

    Homework Statement During a tornado, softer objects are driven through apparently harder objects. How is this possible?Homework Equations noneThe Attempt at a Solution The harder objects have greater mass, and thus more inertia, so they are more difficult to move. Rather than move when the...
  38. K

    Calculating Outward Force of a Tornado on a Wall

    Homework Statement Air within the funnel of a large tornado may have a pressure of only 0.2 atm. Atmospheric pressure is 101300 Pa. What is the approximate outward force F on a 11m X 16 m wall if a tornado suddenly envelopes the house? Answer in units of N. Homework Equations P = F/A...
  39. L

    Difference between a Dust Storm and a Tornado

    If a tornado is identified as a violent column of air, then what is the difference between a tornado and a dust storm (or I should be saying a dust twister)?
  40. D

    What is Going on Inside a Tornado?

    My best guess is that a tornado is a column shaped pocket of gas with a low mass density. Usually such a pocket would collapse in on itself, but in this case it is held open by centripetal force. I'm just speculating about something I don't understand. Can anyone offer up a good...
  41. J

    How Far Must You Be from a Tornado Siren for a 15 dB Decrease in Sound?

    Here is the trouble problem... 11) A tornado warning siren on top of a tall pole radiates sound waves uniformly in all directions. At a distance of 15 m the sound intensity of the siren is 0.39 . Neglect any effects from reflection of the sound waves from the ground. a) At what distance from...
  42. J

    Pressure in a tornado and net force on a door

    In a tornado, the pressure can be 15% below normal atmospheric pressure. Seomtimes a tornado can move so quickly that this pressure drop can occur in one second. Suppose a tornado suddnely occurred outside your front door, whic is 182cm high and 91cm wide. what net force would be exerted on the...
  43. C

    Conservation of angular momentum in coriolis generated tornado funnel

    After careful observation of tornado funnels and coriolis generated water funnels of draining sinks the increasing angular velocities of the water with reduced radii is greater than allowed for by the law of conservation of angular momentum. Could someone shed some light on this situation...