Q:

Why do tornadoes happen?

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Quick Answer

Tornadoes happen when warm, moist air masses and cold, dry air masses collide to cause large thunderstorms. Not all thunderstorms produce tornadoes, and scientists are not certain which factors are directly responsible for their formation. They do know that in many cases, horizontal spinning movements in the air can be lifted vertically. Once vertical, its base may span up to three miles from one side to the other.

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Why do tornadoes happen?
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Full Answer

While tornadoes are theoretically possible in any thunderstorm, they are far more common in the United States and Canada than any other country. They are especially common in a narrow slice of land called Tornado Alley. Tornado alley includes part of Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, South Dakota and Oklahoma. The reason that so many tornadoes occur in this area is that the Gulf of Mexico and Canadian tundra are found at each end. The Gulf of Mexico provides a constant source of warm, wet air, while the air flowing in from Canada is almost always cold and dry. The two air masses often collide over Tornado Alley, causing the frequent tornadoes.

Tornadoes are one of the most destructive forces in nature, and they can cause widespread damage and casualties. Tornadoes are ranked via a scale called the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Some tornadoes have had winds that exceeded 300 miles per hour.

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Related Questions

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    How are tornadoes predicted?

    A:

    According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the conditions that can spawn a tornado occur so suddenly that accurately predicting a tornado more than a few minutes ahead of time is extremely difficult. The National Weather Service issues tornado watches when conditions are conducive to tornado formation in order to keep citizens alert and listening to weather broadcasts for storm warnings.

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  • Q:

    Why are there no tornadoes in California?

    A:

    Tornadoes rarely occur in California because of the state's dry climate and low thunderstorm rate. According to the Tornado Project, California experienced approximately 300 tornadoes between 1950 and 2014. Californian tornadoes are generally small, weak and occur in California's Central Valley.

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    Where do tornadoes occur most often?

    A:

    Areas that experience the highest number of tornadoes each year include the United States, Argentina and Bangladesh. While tornadoes form in many different parts of the world, certain conditions cater to the formation of frequent tornado outbreaks.

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  • Q:

    What are the dangers of tornadoes?

    A:

    The dangers of tornadoes include flying debris that can destroy property and injure people, and violent winds that lift vehicles and rip off roofs. The primary danger of tornadoes is the flying debris, as this often destroys and injures more than what the winds pick up.

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