Tropical Tip: Why Tornadoes Form from Tropical Storms Such As Elsa

Weather Wednesday

We saw it coming, but it still doesn’t make those overnight tornado warnings any less jarring. Like Storm Team 2 warned you ahead of the storm, tornadoes are not uncommon when it comes to tropical storms such as Elsa.

But why exactly is that? We didn’t see tornadoes in these cells off of our coastline.

However, those cells were capable of producing tornadoes all along.

With a tropical system such as Elsa that has bands of thunderstorms and rain moving inland from the coastline, the energy potential is there.

We saw those strong thunderstorms and once they hit land, they encountered the force of friction.

That friction at the ground level creates a change in wind speed and direction and suddenly we have wind shear, a necessary ingredient in the formation of a tornado. That wind shear creates the vorticity needed for a tornado to form. Factor in strong updraft within the cell and you’ve got a rotating column of air perpendicular to the ground.

While it isn’t uncommon and while it certainly is not what we want to see, you can count on Storm Team 2 to be watching for the perfect storm of ingredients to get that air spinning.

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