AskDefine | Define tornado

Dictionary Definition



1 a localized and violently destructive windstorm occurring over land characterized by a funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground [syn: twister]
2 a purified and potent form of cocaine that is smoked rather than snorted [syn: crack] [also: tornadoes (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Tornado



  • (Britain, Australia) tô(r)-nā'dō, /tɔː(ɹ)ˈneɪdəʊ/, /tO:(r)"neId@U/
  • WEAE /toɹˈnaɪ.do/

Etymology 1

From Spanish tronada (thunderstorm) < tronar (to thunder) < Latin tonare (to thunder) < Proto-Indo-European *(s)tene- (to thunder). The 'o' and 'r' were reversed in English (metathesis) under influence of Spanish tornar (to twist, to turn) < Latin tornare (to turn).


  1. A violently rotating column of air, pendant from a cumulonimbus cloud, and nearly always observable as a funnel cloud or tuba. On a local scale, it is the most destructive of all atmospheric phenomena. Its vortex, commonly several hundred yards in diameter, rotates counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere with wind speeds of 100 to more than 300 miles per hour (161 to 483 kmph). Its general direction of travel is governed by the motion of its parent cloud.
Derived terms
column of air
  • Arabic: اعصار
  • Cherokee: ᎤᏃᎴ
  • Chinese: 龍捲風, 龙卷风
  • Czech: tornádo
  • Danish: tornado
  • Dutch: tornado
  • Finnish: tornado, trombi
  • French: tornade
  • German: Tornado
  • Greek: ανεμοστρόβιλος
  • Italian: ciclone
  • Japanese: 竜巻, トルネード
  • Korean: 폭풍, 토네이도
  • Lithuanian: viesulas, tornadas, trombas
  • Portuguese: ciclone
  • Russian: смерч, торнадо
  • Spanish: tornado
  • Swedish: tornado
  • Welsh: gyrwynt

Etymology 2


  1. A rolled pork roast.



  1. tornado



  1. tornado

Extensive Definition

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air which is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. Tornadoes come in many sizes but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris.
Most tornadoes have wind speeds between 40 mph (64 km/h) and 110 mph (177 km/h), are approximately 250 feet (75 m) across, and travel a few miles (several kilometers) before dissipating. Some attain wind speeds of more than 300 mph (480 km/h), stretch more than a mile (1.6 km) across, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles (more than 100 km).
Although tornadoes have been observed on every continent except Antarctica, most occur in the United States. They also commonly occur in southern Canada, south-central and eastern Asia, east-central South America, Southern Africa, northwestern and southeast Europe, Italy, western and southeastern Australia, and New Zealand. In practice, for a vortex to be classified as a tornado, it must be in contact with both the ground and the cloud base. Scientists have not yet created a complete definition of the word; for example, there is disagreement as to whether separate touchdowns of the same funnel constitute separate tornadoes.
A funnel cloud is a visible condensation funnel with no associated strong winds at the surface. Not all funnel clouds evolve into a tornado. However, many tornadoes are preceded by a funnel cloud. Most tornadoes produce strong winds at the surface while the visible funnel is still above the ground, so it is difficult to discern the difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado from a distance.
Occasionally, several tornadoes are spawned from the same large-scale storm system. If there is no break in activity, this is considered a tornado outbreak, although there are various definitions. A period of several successive days with tornado outbreaks in the same general area (spawned by multiple weather systems) is a tornado outbreak sequence, occasionally called an extended tornado outbreak.


The word "tornado" is an altered form of the Spanish word tronada, which means "thunderstorm". This in turn was taken from the Latin tonare, meaning "to thunder". It most likely reached its present form through a combination of the Spanish tronada and tornar ("to turn"); however, this may be a folk etymology. A tornado is also commonly referred to as a twister, and is also sometimes referred to by the old-fashioned colloquial term cyclone.
A satellite tornado is a term for a weaker tornado which forms very near a large, strong tornado contained within the same mesocyclone. The satellite tornado may appear to "orbit" the larger tornado (hence the name), giving the appearance of one, large multi-vortex tornado. However, a satellite tornado is a distinct funnel, and is much smaller than the main funnel.
  • Tornadic waterspouts are more literally "tornadoes over water". They can form over water like mesocyclonic tornadoes, or be a land tornado which crosses onto water. Since they form from severe thunderstorms and can be far more intense, faster, and longer-lived than fair weather waterspouts, they are considered far more dangerous.
Landspout is an unofficial term for a tornado not associated with a mesocyclone. The name stems from their characterization as essentially a "fair weather waterspout on land". Waterspouts and landspouts share many defining characteristics, including relative weakness, short lifespan, and a small, smooth condensation funnel which often does not reach the ground. Landspouts also create a distinctively laminar cloud of dust when they make contact with the ground, due to their differing mechanics from true mesoform tornadoes. Though usually weaker than classic tornadoes, they still produce strong winds and may cause serious damage. They usually cause small areas of heavier rotational wind damage among areas of straight-line wind damage. It is also worth noting that since they are absent of any Coriolis influence from a mesocyclone, they seem to be alternately cyclonic and anticyclonic without preference.


Most tornadoes take on the appearance of a narrow funnel, a few hundred yards (a few hundred meters) across, with a small cloud of debris near the ground. However, tornadoes can appear in many shapes and sizes.
Small, relatively weak landspouts may only be visible as a small swirl of dust on the ground. While the condensation funnel may not extend all the way to the ground, if associated surface winds are greater than 40 mph (64 km/h), the circulation is considered a tornado. Most, but not all major tornadoes are wedges (a good example being the Elie, Manitoba Tornado which was an F5, but was never a wedge tornado).
Tornadoes in the dissipating stage can resemble narrow tubes or ropes, and often curl or twist into complex shapes. These tornadoes are said to be roping out, or becoming a rope tornado. Multiple-vortex tornadoes can appear as a family of swirls circling a common center, or may be completely obscured by condensation, dust, and debris, appearing to be a single funnel.
In addition to these appearances, tornadoes may be obscured completely by rain or dust. These tornadoes are especially dangerous, as even experienced meteorologists might not spot them.
In terms of path length, the Tri-State Tornado, which affected parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925, was officially on the ground continuously for 219 miles (352 km). Many tornadoes which appear to have path lengths of or longer are actually a family of tornadoes which have formed in quick succession; however, there is no substantial evidence that this occurred in the case of the Tri-State Tornado. In fact, modern reanalysis of the path suggests that the tornado began 15 miles (24 km) further west than previously thought.


Tornadoes can have a wide range of colors, depending on the environment in which they form. Those which form in a dry environment can be nearly invisible, marked only by swirling debris at the base of the funnel. Condensation funnels which pick up little or no debris can be gray to white. While travelling over a body of water as a waterspout, they can turn very white or even blue. Funnels which move slowly, ingesting a lot of debris and dirt, are usually darker, taking on the color of debris. Tornadoes in the Great Plains can turn red because of the reddish tint of the soil, and tornadoes in mountainous areas can travel over snow-covered ground, turning brilliantly white.]]
Lighting conditions are a major factor in the appearance of a tornado. A tornado which is "back-lit" (viewed with the sun behind it) appears very dark. The same tornado, viewed with the sun at the observer's back, may appear gray or brilliant white. Tornadoes which occur near the time of sunset can be many different colors, appearing in hues of yellow, orange, and pink.
Dust kicked up by the winds of the parent thunderstorm, heavy rain and hail, and the darkness of night are all factors which can reduce the visibility of tornadoes. Tornadoes occurring in these conditions are especially dangerous, since only weather radar observations, or possibly the sound of an approaching tornado, serve as any warning to those in the storm's path. Fortunately most significant tornadoes form under the storm's rain-free base, or the area under the thunderstorm's updraft, where there is little or no rain. In addition, most tornadoes occur in the late afternoon, when the bright sun can penetrate even the thickest clouds.


Tornadoes normally rotate cyclonically in direction (counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, clockwise in the southern). While large-scale storms always rotate cyclonically due to the Coriolis effect, thunderstorms and tornadoes are so small that the direct influence of Coriolis effect is inconsequential, as indicated by their large Rossby numbers. Supercells and tornadoes rotate cyclonically in numerical simulations even when the Coriolis effect is neglected. Low-level mesocyclones and tornadoes owe their rotation to complex processes within the supercell and ambient environment.
Approximately 1% of tornadoes rotate in an anticyclonic direction. Typically, only landspouts and gustnados rotate anticyclonically, and usually only those which form on the anticyclonic shear side of the descending rear flank downdraft in a cyclonic supercell. However, on rare occasions, anticyclonic tornadoes form in association with the mesoanticyclone of an anticyclonic supercell, in the same manner as the typical cyclonic tornado, or as a companion tornado—either as a satellite tornado or associated with anticyclonic eddies within a supercell.

Sound and seismology

Tornadoes emit widely on the acoustics spectrum and the sounds are caused by multiple mechanisms. Various sounds of tornadoes have been reported throughout time, mostly related to familiar sounds for the witness and generally some variation of a whooshing roar. Popularly reported sounds include a freight train, rushing rapids or waterfall, a jet engine from close proximity, or combinations of these. Many tornadoes are not audible from much distance; the nature and propagation distance of the audible sound depends on atmospheric conditions and topography.
The winds of the tornado vortex and of constituent turbulent eddies, as well as airflow interaction with the surface and debris, contribute to the sounds. Funnel clouds also produce sounds. Funnel clouds and small tornadoes are reported as whistling, whining, humming, or the buzzing of innumerable bees or electricity, or more or less harmonic, whereas many tornadoes are reported as a continuous, deep rumbling, or an irregular sound of “noise”.
Since many tornadoes are audible only in very close proximity, sound is not reliable warning of a tornado. And, any strong, damaging wind, even a severe hail volley or continuous thunder in a thunderstorm may produce a roaring sound.
Tornadoes also produce identifiable inaudible infrasonic signatures. Unlike audible signatures, tornadic signatures have been isolated; due to the long distance propagation of low-frequency sound, efforts are ongoing to develop tornado prediction and detection devices with additional value in understanding tornado morphology, dynamics, and creation.

Electromagnetic, lightning, and other effects

Tornadoes emit on the electromagnetic spectrum, for example, with sferics and E-field effects detected. The effects vary, mostly with little observed consistency.
Correlations with patterns of lightning activity have also been observed, but little in way of consistent correlations have been advanced. Tornadic storms do not contain more lightning than other storms, and some tornadic cells never contain lightning. More often than not, overall cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning activity decreases as a tornado reaches the surface and returns to the baseline level when the tornado lifts. In many cases, very intense tornadoes and thunderstorms exhibit an increased and anomalous dominance in positive polarity CG discharges. Electromagnetics and lightning have little to nothing to do directly with what drives tornadoes (tornadoes are basically a thermodynamic phenomenon), though there are likely connections with the storm and environment affecting both phenomena.
Luminosity has been reported in the past, and is probably due to misidentification of external light sources such as lightning, city lights, and power flashes from broken lines, as internal sources are now uncommonly reported and are not known to ever been recorded.
In addition to winds, tornadoes also exhibit changes in atmospheric variables such as temperature, moisture, and pressure. For example, on June 24, 2003 near Manchester, South Dakota, a probe measured a 100 mbar (hPa) (2.95 inHg) pressure deficit. The pressure dropped gradually as the vortex approached then dropped extremely rapidly to 850 mbar (hPa) (25.10 inHg) in the core of the violent tornado before rising rapidly as the vortex moved away, resulting in a V-shape pressure trace. Temperature tends to decrease and moisture content to increase in the immediate vicinity of a tornado.

Life cycle

Supercell relationship

seealso Supercell Tornadoes often develop from a class of thunderstorms known as supercells. Supercells contain mesocyclones, an area of organized rotation a few miles up in the atmosphere, usually 1–6 miles (2–10 km) across. Most intense tornadoes (EF3 to EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale) develop from supercells. In addition to tornadoes, very heavy rain, frequent lightning, strong wind gusts, and hail are common in such storms.
Most tornadoes from supercells follow a recognizable life cycle.

Intensity and damage

The Fujita scale and the Enhanced Fujita Scale rate tornadoes by damage caused. The Enhanced Fujita Scale was an upgrade to the older Fujita scale, with engineered (by expert elicitation) wind estimates and better damage descriptions, but was designed so that a tornado rated on the Fujita scale would receive the same numerical rating. An EF0 tornado will likely damage trees but not substantial structures, whereas an EF5 tornado can rip buildings off their foundations leaving them bare and even deform large skyscrapers. The similar TORRO scale ranges from a T0 for extremely weak tornadoes to T11 for the most powerful known tornadoes. Doppler radar data, photogrammetry, and ground swirl patterns (cycloidal marks) may also be analyzed to determine intensity and award a rating.
Tornadoes vary in intensity regardless of shape, size, and location, though strong tornadoes are typically larger than weak tornadoes. The association with track length and duration also varies, although longer track tornadoes tend to be stronger. In the case of violent tornadoes, only a small portion of the path is of violent intensity, most of the higher intensity from subvortices.
Outside the United States, areas in south-central Asia, and perhaps portions of southeastern South America and southern Africa, violent tornadoes are extremely rare. This is apparently mostly due to the lesser number of tornadoes overall, as research shows that tornado intensity distributions are fairly similar worldwide. A few significant tornadoes occur annually in Europe, Asia, southern Africa, and southeastern South America, respectively.


The United States has the most tornadoes of any country, about four times more than estimated in all of Europe, not including waterspouts. This is mostly due to the unique geography of the continent. North America is a relatively large continent that extends from the tropical south into arctic areas, and has no major east-west mountain range to block air flow between these two areas. In the middle latitudes, where most tornadoes of the world occur, the Rocky Mountains block moisture and atmospheric flow, allowing drier air at mid-levels of the troposphere, and causing cyclogenesis downstream to the east of the mountains. The desert Southwest also feeds drier air and the dry line, while the Gulf of Mexico fuels abundant low-level moisture. This unique topography allows for many collisions of warm and cold air, the conditions that breed strong, long-lived storms many times a year. A large portion of these tornadoes form in an area of the central United States known as Tornado Alley. Other areas of the world that have frequent tornadoes include South Africa, parts of Argentina, Paraguay, and southern Brazil, as well as portions of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and far eastern Asia.
Tornadoes are most common in spring and least common in winter. Worldwide, most tornadoes occur in the late afternoon, between 3 and 7 pm local time, with a peak near 5 pm. However, destructive tornadoes can occur at any time of day. The Gainesville Tornado of 1936, one of the deadliest tornadoes in history, occurred at 8:30 am local time.
Although insufficient support exists to make conclusions, evidence does suggest that the Southern Oscillation is weakly correlated with some changes in tornado activity; which vary by season and region as well as whether the ENSO phase is that of El Niño or La Niña.
Climatic shifts affect tornadoes via teleconnections in shifting the jet stream and the larger weather patterns. The climate-tornado link is confounded by the forces affecting larger patterns and by the local, nuanced nature of tornadoes. Although it is reasonable that the climate change phenomenon of global warming may affect tornado activity, any such effect is not yet identifiable due to the complexity, local nature of the storms, and database quality issues. Any effect would vary by region.


Weather forecasting is handled regionally by many national and international agencies. For the most part, they are also in charge of the prediction of conditions conducive to tornado development.


Severe thunderstorm warnings are provided to Australia by the Bureau of Meteorology. The country is in the middle of an upgrade to Doppler radar systems, with their first benchmark of installing six new radars reached in July 2006.


The European Union founded a project in 2002 called the European Severe Storms virtual Laboratory, or ESSL, which is meant to fully document tornado occurrence across the continent. The ESTOFEX (European Storm Forecast Experiment) arm of the project also issues one day forecasts for severe weather likelihood. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, an organization known as TorDACH collects information regarding tornadoes, waterspouts, and downbursts from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. A secondary goal is collect all severe weather information. This project is meant to fully document severe weather activity in these three countries.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO) makes experimental predictions. The Met Office provides official forecasts for the UK.

United States

In the United States, generalized severe weather predictions are issued by the Storm Prediction Center, based in Norman, Oklahoma. For the next one, two, and three days, respectively, they will issue categorical and probabilistic forecasts of severe weather, including tornadoes. There is also a more general forecast issued for the four to eight day period. Just prior to the expected onset of an organized severe weather threat, SPC issues severe thunderstorm and tornado watches, in collaboration with local National Weather Service offices. Warnings are issued by local National Weather Service offices when a severe thunderstorm or tornado is occurring or imminent.

Other areas

In Japan, predictions and study of tornadoes in Japan are handled by the Japan Meteorological Agency. In Canada, weather forecasts and warnings, including tornadoes, are produced by the seven regional offices of the Meteorological Service of Canada, a division of Environment Canada.


Rigorous attempts to warn of tornadoes began in the United States in the mid-20th century. Before the 1950s, the only method of detecting a tornado was by someone seeing it on the ground. Often, news of a tornado would reach a local weather office after the storm.
However, with the advent of weather radar, areas near a local office could get advance warning of severe weather. The first public tornado warnings were issued in 1950 and the first tornado watches and convective outlooks in 1952. In 1953 it was confirmed that hook echoes are associated with tornadoes. By recognizing these radar signatures, meteorologists could detect thunderstorms likely producing tornadoes from dozens of miles away.

Storm spotting

In the mid 1970s, the US National Weather Service (NWS) increased its efforts to train storm spotters to spot key features of storms which indicate severe hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes, as well as damage itself and flash flooding. The program was called Skywarn, and the spotters were local sheriff's deputies, state troopers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, amateur radio operators, civil defense (now emergency management) spotters, storm chasers, and ordinary citizens. When severe weather is anticipated, local weather service offices request that these spotters look out for severe weather, and report any tornadoes immediately, so that the office can issue a timely warning.
Usually spotters are trained by the NWS on behalf of their respective organizations, and report to them. The organizations activate public warning systems such as sirens and the Emergency Alert System, and forward the report to the NWS. There are more than 230,000 trained Skywarn weather spotters across the United States.
In Canada, a similar network of volunteer weather watchers, called Canwarn, helps spot severe weather, with more than 1,000 volunteers. In Europe, several nations are organizing spotter networks under the auspices of Skywarn Europe and the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO) has maintained a network of spotters in the United Kingdom since the 1970s.
Storm spotters are needed because radar systems such as NEXRAD do not detect a tornado; only indications of one. Radar may give a warning before there is any visual evidence of a tornado or imminent tornado, but ground truth from an observer can either verify the threat or determine that a tornado is not imminent. The spotter's ability to see what radar cannot is especially important as distance from the radar site increases, because the radar beam becomes progressively higher in altitude further away from the radar, chiefly due to curvature of Earth, and the beam also spreads out. Therefore, when far from a radar, only high in the storm is observed and the important areas are not sampled, and data resolution also suffers. Also, some meteorological situations leading to tornadogenesis are not readily detectable by radar and on occasion tornado development may occur more quickly than radar can complete a scan and send the batch of data.

Visual evidence

Storm spotters are trained to discern whether a storm seen from a distance is a supercell. They typically look to its rear, the main region of updraft and inflow. Under the updraft is a rain-free base, and the next step of tornadogenesis is the formation of a rotating wall cloud. The vast majority of intense tornadoes occur with a wall cloud on the backside of a supercell.
Evidence of a supercell comes from the storm's shape and structure, and cloud tower features such as a hard and vigorous updraft tower, a persistent, large overshooting top, a hard anvil (especially when backsheared against strong upper level winds), and a corkscrew look or striations. Under the storm and closer to where most tornadoes are found, evidence of a supercell and likelihood of a tornado includes inflow bands (particularly when curved) such as a "beaver tail", and other clues such as strength of inflow, warmth and moistness of inflow air, how outflow- or inflow-dominant a storm appears, and how far is the front flank precipitation core from the wall cloud. Tornadogenesis is most likely at the interface of the updraft and rear flank downdraft, and requires a balance between the outflow and inflow.
Only wall clouds that rotate spawn tornadoes, and usually precede the tornado by five to thirty minutes. Rotating wall clouds are the visual manifestation of a mesocyclone. Barring a low-level boundary, tornadogenesis is highly unlikely unless a rear flank downdraft occurs, which is usually visibly evidenced by evaporation of cloud adjacent to a corner of a wall cloud. A tornado often occurs as this happens or shortly after; first, a funnel cloud dips and in nearly all cases by the time it reaches halfway down, a surface swirl has already developed, signifying a tornado is on the ground before condensation connects the surface circulation to the storm. Tornadoes may also occur without wall clouds, under flanking lines, and on the leading edge. Spotters watch all areas of a storm, and the cloud base and surface.


Today, most developed countries have a network of weather radars, which remains the main method of detecting signatures likely associated with tornadoes. In the United States and a few other countries, Doppler radar stations are used. These devices measure the velocity and radial direction (towards or away from the radar) of the winds in a storm, and so can spot evidence of rotation in storms from more than a hundred miles (160 km) away.
Also, most populated areas on Earth are now visible from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), which aid in the nowcasting of tornadic storms.
The deadliest tornado in world history was the Daultipur-Salturia Tornado in Bangladesh on April 26, 1989, which killed approximately 1300 people.
While it is nearly impossible to directly measure the most violent tornado wind speeds (conventional anemometers would be destroyed by the intense winds), some tornadoes have been scanned by mobile Doppler radar units, which can provide a good estimate of the tornado's winds. The highest wind speed ever measured in a tornado, which is also the highest wind speed ever recorded on the planet, is 301 ± 20 mph (484 ± 32 km/h) in the F5 Moore, Oklahoma tornado. Though the reading was taken about 100 feet (30 m) above the ground, this is a testament to the power of the strongest tornadoes.


Though tornadoes can strike in an instant, there are precautions and preventative measures that people can take to increase the chances of surviving a tornado. Authorities such as the Storm Prediction Center advise having a tornado plan. When a tornado warning is issued, going to a basement or an interior first-floor room of a sturdy building greatly increases chances of survival. In tornado-prone areas, many buildings have storm cellars on the property. These underground refuges have saved thousands of lives.
Some countries have meteorological agencies which distribute tornado forecasts and increase levels of alert of a possible tornado (such as tornado watches and warnings in the United States and Canada). Weather radios provide an alarm when a severe weather advisory is issued for the local area, though these are mainly available only in the United States.
Unless the tornado is far away and highly visible, meteorologists advise that drivers park their vehicles far to the side of the road (so as not to block emergency traffic), and find a sturdy shelter. If no sturdy shelter is nearby, getting low in a ditch is the next best option. Highway overpasses are extremely bad shelter during tornadoes (see next section).
Another commonly held belief is that highway overpasses provide adequate shelter from tornadoes. On the contrary, a highway overpass is a dangerous place during a tornado. In the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak of May 3, 1999, three highway overpasses were directly struck by tornadoes, and at all three locations there was a fatality, along with many life-threatening injuries. The small area under the overpasses created a kind of wind tunnel, increasing the wind's speed, making matters worse. By comparison, during the same tornado outbreak, more than 2000 homes were completely destroyed, with another 7000 damaged, and yet only a few dozen people died in their homes.
An old belief is that the southwest corner of a basement provides the most protection during a tornado. The safest place is the side or corner of an underground room opposite the tornado's direction of approach (usually the northeast corner), or the central-most room on the lowest floor. Taking shelter under a sturdy table, in a basement, or under a staircase increases chances of survival even more. and affect valleys. As a general rule, no area is "safe" from tornadoes, though some areas are more susceptible than others. Scientists do have a fairly good idea of the development of thunderstorms and mesocyclones, and the meteorological conditions conducive to their formation; however, the step from supercell (or other respective formative processes) to tornadogenesis and predicting tornadic vs. non-tornadic mesocyclones is not yet well understood and is the focus of much research.
Also under study are the low-level mesocyclone and the stretching of low-level vorticity which tightens into a tornado, namely, what are the processes and what is the relationship of the environment and the convective storm. Intense tornadoes have been observed forming simultaneously with a mesocyclone aloft (rather than succeeding mesocyclogenesis) and some intense tornadoes have occurred without a mid-level mesocyclone. In particular, the role of downdrafts, particularly the rear-flank downdraft, and the role of baroclinic boundaries, are intense areas of study.
Reliably predicting tornado intensity and longevity remains a problem, as do details affecting characteristics of a tornado during its life cycle and tornadolysis. Other rich areas of research are tornadoes associated with mesovortices within linear thunderstorm structures and within tropical cyclones.
Scientists still do not know the exact mechanisms by which most tornadoes form, and occasional tornadoes still strike without a tornado warning being issued, especially in under-developed countries. Analysis of observations including both stationary and mobile (surface and aerial) in-situ and remote sensing (passive and active) instruments generates new ideas and refines existing notions. Numerical modeling also provides new insights as observations and new discoveries are integrated into our physical understanding and then tested in computer simulations which validate new notions as well as produce entirely new theoretical findings, many of which are otherwise unattainable. Importantly, development of new observation technologies and installation of finer spatial and temporal resolution observation networks have aided increased understanding and better predictions.
Research programs, including field projects such as VORTEX, deployment of TOTO (the TOtable Tornado Observatory), Doppler On Wheels (DOW), and dozens of other programs, hope to solve many questions that still plague meteorologists. Universities, government agencies such as the National Severe Storms Laboratory, private-sector meteorologists, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research are some of the organizations very active in research; with various sources of funding, both private and public, a chief entity being the National Science Foundation.

Further reading

tornado in Afrikaans: Tornado
tornado in Arabic: إعصار
tornado in Bengali: টর্নেডো
tornado in Min Nan: Kńg-lê-á-hong
tornado in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Тарнада
tornado in Bosnian: Tornado
tornado in Bulgarian: Торнадо
tornado in Catalan: Tornado
tornado in Czech: Tornádo
tornado in Danish: Tornado
tornado in German: Tornado
tornado in Modern Greek (1453-): Σίφωνας
tornado in Estonian: Tromb
tornado in Spanish: Tornado
tornado in Esperanto: Tornado (ŝtormo)
tornado in Basque: Tornado
tornado in Persian: پیچند
tornado in French: Tornade
tornado in Scottish Gaelic: Cuairt-ghaoth
tornado in Classical Chinese: 龍捲風
tornado in Korean: 토네이도
tornado in Croatian: Tornado
tornado in Indonesian: Tornado
tornado in Inuktitut: ᐅᓚᔪᔭᖅ/ulajujaq
tornado in Icelandic: Hvirfilbylur
tornado in Italian: Tornado
tornado in Hebrew: טורנדו
tornado in Latin: Turbo
tornado in Latvian: Tornado
tornado in Lithuanian: Tornadas
tornado in Hungarian: Tornádó
tornado in Malay (macrolanguage): Puting beliung
tornado in Dutch: Tornado (wervelwind)
tornado in Dutch Low Saxon: Wervelstörm
tornado in Cree: Kashtun
tornado in Japanese: 竜巻
tornado in Norwegian: Tornado
tornado in Norwegian Nynorsk: Tornado
tornado in Polish: Tornado
tornado in Portuguese: Tornado
tornado in Romanian: Tornadă
tornado in Russian: Смерч
tornado in Sicilian: Turnatu
tornado in Simple English: Tornado
tornado in Slovak: Tornádo
tornado in Slovenian: Tornado
tornado in Serbian: Торнадо
tornado in Finnish: Trombi (pyörremyrsky)
tornado in Swedish: Tromb
tornado in Tagalog: Ipo-ipo
tornado in Tamil: குழல் காற்று
tornado in Thai: ทอร์นาโด
tornado in Vietnamese: Vòi rồng
tornado in Cherokee: ᎤᏃᎴ
tornado in Turkish: Hortum (meteoroloji)
tornado in Ukrainian: Смерч
tornado in Yiddish: טורנעידא
tornado in Chinese: 龍捲風

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

baguio, blaze, burst, convulsion, cyclone, dirty weather, dust devil, eruption, explosion, fit, flare-up, foul weather, gale, gust, hurricane, irruption, line squall, outbreak, outburst, paroxysm, rainspout, rainstorm, rotary storm, rough weather, sand column, sandspout, seizure, snowstorm, spasm, squall, storm, stormy weather, tempest, tempestuous rage, thunderstorm, twister, typhoon, upheaval, waterspout, whirlblast, whirlwind, wind eddy, windstorm
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