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How a tornado is formed

Although no two tornadoes are the same, they need certain 

conditions to form - particularly intense or unseasonable heat.

A storm quickly develops - there may be rain, thunder 

and lightning.

Tornadoes are among the most violent storms on Earth, 

with the potential to cause very serious damage.

As the ground temperature increases, moist air heats and 

starts to rise.


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How a tornado is formed

When the warm, moist air meets cold dry air, it explodes 

upwards, puncturing the layer above. A thunder cloud may 

begin to build.

A storm quickly develops - there may be rain, thunder 

and lightning.



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3

How a tornado is formed

Upward movement of air can become very rapid. Winds from 

different directions cause it to rotate.

A visible cone or funnel drops out of the cloud towards 

the ground.


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4

How a tornado is formed

The vortex of winds varies in size and shape, and can be 

hundreds of metres wide. A tornado can last from several 

seconds to more than an hour and may travel dozens 

of miles.


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How a tornado is formed

Winds within the tornado may be so fast they cannot be 

properly measured. Instead, the Fujita damage scale is used 

to estimate speed.



F0 (0-73mph) - Light damage: Some damage to chimneys. 

Branches broken from trees and some trees blown over.



F1 (73-112mph) - Moderate damage: Moving cars blown off 

roads, mobile homes overturned, or pushed off 

their foundations.

F2 (113-157mph) - Considerable damage: Mobile homes 

demolished, large trees snapped or uprooted, cars lifted off 

the ground.

F3 (158-206mph) - Severe damage: Trains overturned, most 

trees uprooted, heavy cars thrown, walls of homes destroyed.



F4 (207-260mph) - Devastating damage: Well constructed 

buildings destroyed, large objects thrown.



F5 (261-318mph) - Incredible damage: Cars thrown more 

than 100 metres, strong buildings swept away.




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