How tornadoes form


With Utah’s severe weather season right around the corner, it really peaks from the middle of May through the middle of June. Most commonly found in the Midwest & Southeast U.S. in Tornado Alley, tornadoes can still be observed right here in Utah. Actually, Utah averages about to tornadoes a year!

The Pinpoint Weather Team’s Alana Brophy explains how tornadoes form.

Wind is a key player in tornado development and in order to have a twister form, you need a change in wind direction between the surface and levels of the upper atmosphere.

Wind will change direction both vertically and horizontally, when the wind direction changes with height or vertically, you will get a horizontal rotation in a column of air. This will lead to strong lift in the atmosphere creating a thunderstorm. This lift will flip the horizontal column vertically leading to the formation of a tornado.

We saw this kind of tornado formation back in 2016 when a twister touched down in Washington Terrace and in Panguitch on the same day. Several homes were damaged as a result in Washington Terrace and an outbuilding was destroyed in Panguitch.

Tornadoes use the enhanced fujita scale which rates the storm’s intensity based on the damage they cause. The scale ranges from an EF-0 through EF-5 and this is designated after the twister is surveyed by the damage caused from the twister’s winds

The safest place to be during a tornado is in a basement. However, many do not have basements, especially in the Southeast and Midwest.  So if a tornado is coming, you will want to head to a room in the center of the house, preferably a room with no windows like a bathroom or closet.


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