Purdue University study of tornado formation indicates that twisters can develop in unexpected ways and at unexpected times and places, a discovery that presents a new twist to weather watchers across the country.
While people generally expect tornadoes to form from isolated storm cells in the evening in springtime, a survey of weather data led by Purdue researcher Robert "Jeff" Trapp has revealed that a significant number of tornadoes form under unexpected circumstances. Especially in the Midwest, many tornadoes form from "line-shaped" storms often associated with large weather fronts. Such tornadoes are more likely to form during winter months, late at night. These data were taken from a survey of 3,800 tornadoes that formed over the United States from 1998-2000. (Purdue University/Trapp laboratories)
Although tornadoes are often conceived of as arising from springtime storms that develop in early evenings out of isolated weather cells, a new study spearheaded by Purdues Robert "Jeff" Trapp indicates those conceptions often fail to hold, especially in the Midwest. Although far from the so-called "Tornado Alley," a region that falls generally in the plains of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, the Midwest still experiences a high number of the storms every year.
After examining data on more than 3,800 U.S. tornadoes, Trapps team has found that many twisters develop within the line-shaped storm fronts that often sweep across the country. The twist is that these are tornadoes that are more likely to form late at night and in colder months.
Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
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