How tornadoes form

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ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ) – As we get closer to severe weather season it is time to start talking about a safety plan. Here in Central Pa, we are no strangers to severe storms and the damage they can cause. In this article, we will dive into one of the scariest weather phenomena, tornadoes.

One of the major ingredients needed for a tornado to form is wind shear. Wind shear is the change in wind direction and speed from the surface up to couple thousand feet in the atmosphere. Picture a horizontal spinning “wind tube” between the ground and the clouds. The wind at the surface is slower than the wind aloft due to the friction at the surface. Also, because there is less friction the higher you are above the surface the wind can be blowing in a different direction. The combination of wind speed and direction allows the ‘wind tube” to form.

Another important ingredient needed is an updraft (rising air). This is where a thunderstorm comes into play. A mature thunderstorm has both an updraft and a downdraft. The updraft in the thunderstorm forces the horizontal spinning “wind tube” to become vertical. The now verticle spinning wind tube can form a funnel cloud. The funnel cloud then continues to grow in length until it reaches the ground at which then becomes a tornado.

The stronger the wind shear the stronger the tornado will be.

Do you know your safety plan? Talk to your family about what everyone should do when severe weather happens. If you are under a Tornado Warning make sure you go to the innermost part of your house and stay away from windows. If you have a basement have your family stay down there until it is safe. If you are out driving and come across a tornado drive to the closest building and get inside. Make sure you stay weather-aware.

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