Tornado dynamics, illustration

Tornado dynamics, illustration

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Credit: CLAUS LUNAU/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Tornado dynamics. Illustration of the flows of air that form a tornado. The red arrow shows the rotating of the air in the tornado, while the blue arrows show the rapid downdraft between colliding weather systems that causes the tornado. A tornado is a rapidly rotating funnel of air that can form below certain types of storm clouds, and can be accompanied by lightning (yellow) and rain. If it touches the ground, the high wind speeds in the rotating funnel can cause immense destruction, throwing up a cloud of debris. Large and powerful tornados can have wind speeds of over 200 kilometres per hour, be many metres wide at their base, destroy houses and trees, and kill people in their path. Tornados often form as weather fronts collide over large plains, such as the Great Plains of the USA.

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