Tornado, 2: Learning How Tornadoes Form

Tornado Near Mayfield Oklahoma 1977 (National Severe Storm Laboratory)

Tornado Near Seymour Texas 1979 (D. Burgess - NSSL)

In a four-minute Scientific American video, scientists explain what we think we know – and don’t know – about How a Tornado Forms.

A second four-and-a-half minute video, Tornado Researchers Chase the ‘Perfect Storm’, describes Vortex2, the largest scientific study of tornado genesis ever marshalled.

In Vortex2 over 100 scientists and 40 support vehicles are participating in a “unique, fully nomadic, field program” during a second and final field season which began this month and will continue through the middle of June. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Vortex2 seeks the answers to such questions as:

“How, when, and why do tornadoes form? Why some are violent and long lasting while others are weak and short lived?

“What is the structure of tornadoes? How strong are the winds near the ground? How exactly do they do damage?

“ How can we learn to forecast tornadoes better?

“Current warnings have an only 13 minute average lead time and a 70% false alarm rate.
Can we make warnings more accurate? Can we warn 30, 45, 60 minutes ahead?”

For much more on this fascinating and important study, see the Vortex2 website.

Tornado Near Cordell Oklahoma 1981 (NSSL)

Published in: on May 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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