How Important Is Condensation in Maintaining Swirling Winds of Tornadoes?


We can understand the importance of condensation in tornadoes because it helps maintain squall line circulations and shear-induced vortices.

These processes help tornadoes develop and sustain tornado-like winds. Nonetheless, we cannot fully understand how these processes work.

The following article will briefly explore the key elements of convection. A convective system is a collection of thunderstorm cells in close proximity to one another. The cells are related through their properties.

Condensation in maintaining swirling winds of tornadoes

Scientists have long suspected that tornadoes form from the top down, but a new study has proved otherwise.

High-resolution data collected every 16 seconds revealed that tornadoes initiate their swirling winds several levels below the surface.

This means that even before the weather radar can observe the rotation, the twirling winds began several levels below the surface. For example, a vortex photographed in 2013 over El Reno, OK began at an altitude of 60 feet (20 meters). The tornado rotated over 11,000 feet (3,500 m) before the weather radar could detect it.

A tornado’s wind pattern is dictated by low-pressure centers located in a specific area. This low-pressure center draws in cooler air from the surrounding area and pushes it upward, resulting in high-wind speeds.

In a tornado, air spiraling toward the center of low pressure cools and expands, forming condensation. The tornado’s air pressure is about 10 percent lower than surrounding air, which causes the surrounding air to rush in much faster.

Condensation in maintaining shear-induced vortices

HVs form in a complex manner around the tornado, and they tend to change orientation and shape less as they move farther away from the core of the tornado.

The rate of HV distortion is related to the amount of 3D shear strain present around the core of the tornado. The size and orientation of HVs also depend on the distance from the parent tornado and the length scale of the vortices.

Suction vortices are often complex and contain multiple layers of ice. At the base of the tornado, they are often made up of multiple suction vortices that converge to form a single vortex aloft.

The spiral vortex is an example of a complex structure, which is shaped by the interaction between the ice-forming surface and the surrounding air.

It helps maintain squall line circulations

The physical property of water plays a key role in the formation and maintenance of tornadoes. In most cases, the dew point is above 55F and winds will be moving in the opposite direction of the tornado’s rotation.

The cyclostrophic balance is disrupted because the tornado is unable to draw enough air in from above. Hence, converging winds will slow down the rotation and help maintain the swirling winds of the tornado.

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