Tornadoes are formed when hot air and cold air meet in a powerful storm, and the warm air begins spiralling upward, creating a funnel cloud. This funnel cloud forces objects on the ground and in the air around and upward, and can be strong enough to uproot trees, move cars and tear apart buildings. This extremely energetic air current is part of a special, very tall storm called a supercell.
The supercells that make tornadoes form when a large mass of cold air moves over a large mass of warm air. This situation is highly unstable, because the warm air is lighter than the cold air. The greater the temperature difference, the more unstable the situation. Winds are generated as the warm air moves up and through the cold air and the cold air moves down and around the warm air. If the warm air contains a large amount of water vapor, it tends to condense into clouds as it moves up and cools.
When this movement of warm air upward is energetic enough, the moving air starts to twist on its way up, creating the potential for a funnel cloud. These funnel clouds are the effect of rapidly moving and spinning warm air and condensing water vapor going upward and spiraling.Learn More
Obvious clues to look for that a thunderstorm is on the way include a static noise on an AM radio station, the smell of rain and a sudden drop in temperature along with a strong breeze. Other signs are a change in wind direction, billowing and darkening clouds, flashes of lightning in the distance or the faint sound of thunder.Full Answer >
When two air masses with different temperatures and levels of humidity meet they form weather fronts. This can include cold, warm, occluded or stationary fronts depending on the characteristics of the air masses.Full Answer >
According to the Weather Channel, the worst thunderstorm in the U.S. in terms of cost took place on May 5, 1995 in Fort Worth, Texas. Hail damage alone was over $2 billion, not counting wind or rain damages. Prior to this, only hurricanes had damage figures in the billions.Full Answer >
Some of the tools hurricane centers use to track and forecast storms include satellites, reconnaissance aircraft, ships, buoys and radar systems. Satellites are used in remotely measuring the intensity and track of the hurricane as the tropical cyclone travels over the ocean.Full Answer >