Severe Weather Awareness Week: How do tornadoes form from thunderstorms? 🌪️⛈️

We’re continuing our series on Severe Weather Awareness Week to help you understand the weather phenomena that affect us here in Florida.

Wednesday’s focus is on Thunderstorms and Tornadoes. Thunderstorms are closely linked to our Day 1 topic: Lightning.

Fun fact: you can’t have thunder without lightning, so if you’re hearing a thunderstorm headed your way, it’s definitely bringing lightning, too.

Thunderstorms are also how tornadoes are formed.

RELATED: Let’s talk lightning 🌩️ | What are the signs of a rip current? 🌊

Tornadoes are essentially just rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm and come in contact with the ground. If you think about what a tornado actually looks like, this description makes a lot of sense.

Tornadoes develop from severe thunderstorms, but certain factors typically have to be present, which is why there aren’t tornado warnings for every afternoon thundershower. For tornadoes to form, there has to be warm, moist and unstable air beside or just a touch ahead of the cold front at play.

In Florida, the majority of tornadoes occur in the spring and summer months. In the summertime, they typically pop up within strong summer breeze boundary collisions and tropical cyclones.

Florida tornadoes form one of four ways:

From a simple local thunderstorm with the conditions mentioned aboveFrom within a hurricaneAlong squall lines just ahead of a cold front that’s moving from the north. Along a squall line in an area where warm air converges

The winds within a tornado can surpass some of the most intense hurricane winds. Winds can pick up to at least 200 mph, uprooting trees, downing powerlines and destroying homes and vehicles.

WATCH: Tornado and thunderstorm statistics for Severe Weather Awareness Week

If you’ve ever wondered why thunder is so loud, here’s your answer!

The volume of the thunder is affected by the temperature. Basically, thunder is formed through a combination of millions of shockwaves within the atmosphere, and the warmer the air, the louder and more intense the thunder is.

Ever see a thunderstorm that doesn’t appear to have rain? That’s called a verga.

A verga occurs when a thunderstorm has rain develop below the cloud base, but because it’s in a very dry atmosphere, the rain dissipates somewhere between that cloud base and the ground.

One common question is whether you should shower during a thunderstorm. Honestly, no. If lightning strikes your home, it can move through pipes and you could get shocked. The same advice applies to washing dishes during a thunderstorm (you’re welcome 😉).

Please comment below with any additional questions about Florida’s severe weather.

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