The Dynamics of a Tornado - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

The Dynamics of a Tornado

The Dynamics of a Tornado

This is the Darien, GA Tornado of May 11, 2008 as seen from St. Simons Island across the marsh. The photo was taken by Kara Corely. Graphics and discussion by Patrick Prokop, broadcast meteorologist for WTOC-TV, Savannah, GA

The storm is moving from left to right (west to east). Notice the rain shaft to the right of the tornado. A tornado will always form on the backside of the storm (SW quadrant).

The downdraft is located in the front portion of the storm, where the rain is falling. There could be strong straight line winds (gust front) associated with this with velocities over 55 mph. The tornado is the violent rotating UPDRAFT. In this case, the winds would be 136 to 165 mph (EF-3).

Usually, with these type storms, a hail shaft will be located on the back side of the downdraft ahead of the tornado. Many times, large hail would be a precursor to an impending tornado.

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