Two Air Masses That Will Cause a Tornado

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Tornadoes are terrible natural disasters that are capable of causing massive amounts of damage. This is even more interesting due to the fact that a tornado is simply a high-powered wind that forms into a cyclone. However, these cyclones do not just appear at random. It takes two specific types of air masses combined to produce a tornado.

Warm, Wet Southern Winds

Winds that come north from the Gulf of Mexico are usually very wet and very warm because of the climate they are coming from. These winds often blow north in the spring or early summer, giving this time of year the name "tornado season." These wet, warm winds, wherever they come from, are pivotal to the formation of tornadoes. To form a tornado, one air front that must be present is this type of heavy, warm wind.

Dry, Cool Northern Winds

Year round, winds blow south from the Canadian tundra to sweep across the landscape, meeting the warmer winds from the south. These winds are drier and cooler, as a result of the environment they are coming from. These winds do not necessarily have to come from Canada, but they do have to be lighter, cooler and drier winds to be essential to the formation of a tornado.

The Effect

When these two air masses meet, the warmer, wetter winds are pushed upwards by the faster-moving, cold winds; the warmer air spirals upward. The warm wind, in turn, forces the cooler, lighter air downward in a revere spinning cycle. Eventually the warmer winds become faster and faster, resulting in a combining of these two spinning air masses to form a tornado.


About the Author

Cameron Burry has been writing professionally since 2006. He received his Associate of Arts degree from Lakeland College for English and writing, and holds two degrees from Murray State University: one in creative writing and one in English literature.

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