How Tornadoes Form?

Tornadoes are just one of the ways mother Nature displays her powers of destruction. There aren’t many other natural occurrences which can wreak as much havoc as tornadoes can. And up until now, scientists thought they have a pretty solid grasp on how tornadoes work.

Scientists generally thought that tornadoes form from the top down, but recent findings suggest that they might form from the ground up. When people think of a tornado, they usually envision a funnel cloud emerging from the dark thunderstorm clouds above. For the longest time scientists believed that the wind rotations form in the sky above and then slowly make their way down.


A tornado spawns from a powerful updraft of warm air as it gets trapped beneath colder and drier air. But in addition to these two types of air, you also need a wind shear. The wind shear is what causes these two air masses to rotate horizontally. As the air travels upward, it may switch its rotation from horizontal to vertical – and this is where the tornado forms.

During a storm from 2011 that hit El Reno, the scientists captured images that clearly showed that the rotating winds formed at multiple levels in the atmosphere and not high above. There was even a funnel discovered near the ground.

The fact that the storm had a funnel before any rotation was noticed is a huge revelation. Unfortunately, everything about that storm had been strange enough that the scientists could not use it as a recurring example.

In all probability, there are many different tornado geneses. Even computer simulations have shown that tornadoes can form in this way when reproducing the storm from 2011.

Additionally, tornadoes have gained in power over the recent years, and that is all down to global warming. The fact there is more moisture and heat is the main reason this is happening, and as global temperatures rise so will the power of all future tornadoes.

Editor's Picks

As her name suggests, Jenna Small stands little over 4ft tall. Being petite and blonde, many often underestimate her talent. As a result, she spent her entire life working twice as hard to prove that she was the best. Now an established geologist, she does not beat around the bush when it comes to her work. Her research has been published and used in schools throughout the region. She often states that her most significant accomplishment was choosing to better herself through a solid education. When she is not busy unearthing new findings, she volunteers as a motivational speaker to girls who have been victims of bullying, discrimination, or harassment.

reset password

Back to
log in