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What is the science behind forming a tornado?

A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the Earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. The windstorm is often referred to as a twister, whirlwind or cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology to name a weather system with a low-pressure area in the center around which, from an observer looking down toward the surface of the earth, winds blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, and they are often visible in the form of a condensation funnel originating from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud, with a cloud of rotating debris and dust beneath it.

Tornadoes occur when warm, moist air rises rapidly through a large, deep layer of cooler air. This process, known as convection, creates an area of low pressure at the surface and causes wind to start to rotate. As the warm air continues to rise, the rotation of the wind increases and a column of air begins to form. This column of air, known as a mesocyclone, can stretch from the surface of the Earth up to the base of the thunderstorm cloud. As the mesocyclone continues to rotate and the pressure at the center of the storm drops further, the column of air becomes increasingly narrow, eventually forming the tornado.

The size and strength of the tornado is determined by a number of factors, including the amount of warm, moist air available, the amount of instability in the atmosphere and the speed and direction of the wind. The stronger the convection, the stronger the tornado will be. Tornadoes can have wind speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, making them one of the most destructive forces of nature.

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