This Essay on the Tornado was tasked to me on 29 MAR 2011 by 2Lt King. On this essay, I will discuss on what is tornado, how it forms, and the various kinds of tornadoes, where and when tornado do happens, the effects it causes and how to take the safety measures to avoid the happening of these tornadoes.
In the past two decades advances has been made in the understanding the structure, dynamism and the effects of tornadoes. Tornadoes occur mostly in every state in union, with different uniqueness on each occurrence. It is the most violent, magnificent, and utterly unpredicted storms on earth causing unplanned destructions. A recent tornado occurred in April 27, 2011 in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham killing dozens of people in the four states. The report showed that at least 58 individuals were killed in the state on that same day (Woods, Michael and Woods, Mary. 26). This resulted to the state to declare it as a state of emergency for the search and rescue of the individuals befallen by the disaster.
Tornado is a strong and powerful twisting windstorm, which begins high in the air in the midst of a giant strong cloud. This strong tornado is commonly in a classical funnel shaped cloud with the whirling updraft. It has a rotating speed varying from 110 to 200 mph. This tornado causes much destruction in large buildings, uproot trees, and even hurl vehicles hundreds of yards away. At some time, this tornado can be confused with the dust devils or typhoons but there are some characteristics with these windstorms. Dust devils are classified as the weakest windstorms, and its occurrences are about five feet across. The typhoons are the largest swirling windstorms blowing about 75 to 150 miles away per hour. Tornadoes are not as large as the typhoons as they do not travel far and only last for a shorter time.
Where and when a tornado forms
A tornado can be formed in any region if it prevails the conditions which facilities the occurrence of the tornado. However, of recent the continents of North America, southern Canada, southeast Europe, parts of South America, Australia and New Zealand appears to be a hot spot for these destructive happenings of forces of nature. These tornadoes are formed within a range of factors including the temperature, and the humidity which when it vary and come together, the result is a formation of thunderclouds.
The formation of tornadoes
A tornado begins in a very severe thunderstorm called a super cell. Tornadoes normally formed when two masses of different temperatures and humidity meets causing thunderstorms containing large swelling of warm air. As the warm air moves upwards to a cooler area, instabilities begin to form creating a cap of cold air which gives way causing the strong winds to spin. The spinning of the strong winds starts creating a funnel shaped cloud in which if it touches the ground it becomes a tornado. This tornado forms in the life cycle consisting of three stages (Woods Micheal and Woods Mary 25).
The first stage is the start of the tornado, where the mesocyclone with the rear-flank downdraft (RFD)-the region of dry air forming around the back of a mesocyclone, starts moving towards the ground resulting to the formation of a small funnel at the bottom of the wall cloud. When the RFD reaches the ground, the dirt surrounding the place raises causing damages thus forming a tornado.
The second stage is the life of the tornado, the energy that propels the tornado is the warm-wind inflows, which is generated by the RFD. As the tornado travels a distance ahead, the RFD starts to become cool. The rate at which the RFD cools are the determinant of the distances a tornado will travel.
The last stage is the end of the tornado, where once the supply of the warm air is cut, the vortex or the central axis begins to weaken eventually shriveling away bringing the tornado to a stop. If a new mesocyclone forms, another cycle of the events happens to give rise to a new tornado.
Types of tornadoes
Though the appearance of a tornado is a funnel shaped, they exist various types of the tornadoes. This includes:
Super cell tornadoes- this kind originates from a super-cell thunderstorm. It is characteristic by a thick upward drawn air current moving in a rational motion. They are normally large and in a wedge shaped keeping constant in the ground for a very long time with the wind blowing at a speed of above 200mph.
Gustnado- this is a weak tornado defined like a gust front tornado and does not last for a long period. Tough not considered as a tornado because it has no link between the cloud base and the circulation of the wind, it still causes some destructions.
Waterspout- this type forms in the surface of the waters. It is of two kinds, tornadic and non-tornadic. A tornadic waterspout forms over the surface of water as they develop from thunderstorms, which travels at a high speed and intensity. On the other hand, non- tornadic waterspouts moves in a slow motion, which are less destructive. The intensity of this waterspout starts weakening further when it reaches the land surface.
Fire whirls- often referred to as fire tornadoes, firenadoes or firedevils caused by a volcanic eruption. It is made up of a column of rotational smoke or fire appearing like a tornado with wind speed of firewhils of above 100 mph.
Dust devil- commonly happens in a dry and hot seasons on a desert. It has a unique feature of forming in a clear sky and not like other tornadoes, which are associated with clouds. It occurs during early hours of the afternoon or late hours of the mourning. It blows at a speed of 70 mph creating a thin vortex of dust.
What causes these tornadoes
Tornadoes forms under some set of conditions in which three different types of air comes together in a certain manner. The necessary ingredients for its formation are temperature and moisture differences between the surfaces and the upper level creating instability.
A layer forms between the warm layer, and the low level called a hot, dry air. This allows the warm air underneath to warm further hence making the air more unstable. Things start to unfold when a storm system in the air moves east and begins to lift the various layers on the earth surface ( Peabody 38). In the course of this lifting process, the cap is removed, thereby paving the way for explosive thunderstorm to develop as powerful updrafts build up. Complex interactions between the updraft and the adjacent winds may cause the updraft to start rotating-and a tornado emerges.
The effects of tornadoes
Tough the happenings of these tornadoes are short lived; they cause unbelievable havoc on the site of its occurrence. It is common to lift buildings from its foundation, roll vehicles all around, and even propel animals and people a considerable distance (Grazulis 269). The most deathly effect is the flying debris and the shear pressure of the winds when it hits a building. This wind explodes a building, lifting the roofs and toppling the walls.
Safety measures to avoid the happening of these tornadoes
As a fact that the occurrence of these tornadoes is not predictable, some of this appears in a certain onset of weather conditions. One of the important things to prevent the severe causes of the tornado is to be more alert during the onset of the weather conditions. Deaths normally happen to individuals who are unaware or uninformed. Measures and precautions differ from one site of the occurrence to another but; the general one is to be alert on the signs of its happening.
Things showing the start of a tornado include:
A sickly greenish color in the sky followed by a quite occurring within or shortly after thunderstorm, clouds moving in a very faster motion and rotating pattern towards one side of the sky, and a sound like a waterfall or rushing air follows turning into a roar as it comes closer. There is also dropping of debris from the sky and an obvious funnel- shaped cloud-rotating round.
More often, the National Weather Service issue warning on the occurrences of tornado through the radio or televisions and so a need for an emergency plan to protect your shelter or housing. According to the American Red Cross, people should remain inside until the storm has entirely passed away (Church 528). They should also stay clear of downed wires or electricity poles, and if there is a smell of a natural gas, they should leave the building and inform the fire department without more ado.
Getting educated about the effects of these tornadoes is also the best way to get safe if someone ever finds himself or herself on violent storms. Another precaution is mostly on those driving at the occurrence of the tornado. The thing is that, they should never try to out-drive a tornado, or get out of their vehicles immediately to take shelter in a building but rather they should get out and lie on a ditch or a low lying and keep alert of the potential for flooding.