Explainer: Why a tornado forms

Tornadoes start with a thunderstorm. But they also require other ingredients, such as instability.

By Andrew Bridges, 17:21 PM May 21, 2013

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the ground to a thunderstorm above. Tornadoes can leave a path of damage more than 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) wide. They can travel more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) over land. And while some touch down briefly, others can last for more than an hour.

 

Tornadoes start with a thunderstorm. But they also require other ingredients, such as instability. Air is unstable when it is warmer closer to the ground than it is higher up. That wa...

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