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What is a tornado?

Updated on June 22, 2012

What is a tornado? A tornado usually comes when there is a large thunderstorm called a super-cell. This super-cell thunderstorm contains a mesocyclone. A Mesocyclone is a vortex of air within a storm. This vortex of air must be anywhere from 2 miles to 10 miles in diameter. This storm will cause columns of warm humid air to rise rapidly.

The air begins to rotate because wind has two different altitudes that blow a different speeds. This causes a wind shear and the wind shear causes that rotating air column. This rotating air column forms and gets caught up in that super-cell thunderstorm. If that air column gets caught up in an updraft then that is where it all begins. The updraft tightens and spins that air column.

It maintains speed and even gains speed while continuing to spin. A funnel cloud is then formed. A funnel cloud is a rotating column of air produced by a thunderstorm. When it begins to rain or hail it forces the funnel cloud down toward the ground. Once this funnel cloud hits the ground it becomes a tornado.


  • Tornadoes are also known as Twisters.
  • Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms.
  • In the United States approximately 90 people a year die due to these storms.
  • More than one tornado can occur at the same time.
  • Tornadoes sometimes are barely noticeable until picking up debris and dust.

Peace, love, and blessings.

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    • MelissaMelvin profile image

      MelissaMelvin 5 years ago from Prattville, AL

      In Prattville there have been quite a few. Thanks for the comment!

    • Academicviews profile image

      Academicviews 5 years ago from Scotland

      Interesting Hub, I see on the news how powerful these tornados can be and the destruction they leave behind. A terrifying thing to endure I'd imagine and another little reminder how mother nature can take as easily as give. "the hands that build can also pull down".


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