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Earth Science - Lecture 23 Notes.docx

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McMaster University
Earth Sciences
Sergei Basik

TORNADO: CLASSIFICATION AND DAMAGES Tornado Variations and Similar Phenomena Multiple-Vortex Tornado  A tornado that contains several vortices rotating around, inside of and as part of the main vortex  Visible when: o Tornado is first forming o Condensation and debris are balanced enough so that sub-vortices are apparent without being obscured  Occur in groups of 2-5 at once (6 or 7 is uncommon)  Usually last less than a minute each  Responsible for most cases where narrow arcs of extreme destruction lie right next to weak damage within tornado paths Gustnado (gust front tornado)  Weak and usually short-lived  Temporary dust whirl or debris cloud Waterspout  Tornado over water  Usually form from weak thunderstorms or rapidly growing cumulus clouds  Usually less intense and cause far less damage  Dissipate upon reaching land  Ex. Adriatic Sea in the Gulf of Mexico  The land equivalent is a land-spout Fire Tornadoes/Firewhirl  A tornado-like rotating column of smoke and/or fire during the wildfire  Winds associated with firewhirls have been estimated at over 100mph  Dust Devils: o Dry, hot, clear days on the desert or over dry land can bring about dust devils o Form in the hot sun during the late morning or early afternoon hours o Different from tornadoes in that they are not associated with any cloud o Usually weaker than the weakest tornado o Can cause minor damage but usually harmless Tornado Classification  Fujita scale (F-scale) devised to classify severity of tornadoes based on internal wind speeds and damage produced: o F0 causes minimal damage o F5 blows away strong frame homes o F-scale damage chart and photographs correspond to wind speeds  Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale is based on detailed wind measurements and long-term records of damage  Uses three-second wind gust estimates at site (more reliable than old scale)  Shows that particular types of damage occur at much lower wind speeds Tornado Damages  Ted Fujita’s observations of tornado damages showed swaths of severe damage adjacent to areas of only minor damage  Swaths of debris were left in curved paths  Hypothesized that smaller vortices with most intense winds rotate around tornado  Vortices have since been photographed Damage P
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