Ask Storm Team 11: How do tornadoes form?

Weather

Today’s Ask Storm Team 11 question: how do tornadoes form?

Tornadoes form when there is a change in the wind direction between the surface and upper levels. This is what we call wind shear. A change in wind direction with height causes a horizontal rotation.

Due to strong updrafts and lift in thunderstorms, this horizontal rotation can get flipped and become vertical. This causes a tornado.

Sometimes we only see a funnel cloud, which is a tornado that has not yet hit the ground.

A similar phenomenon happens over water, called a water spout.

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