Breakdown: Landspouts vs tornadoes -why they differ

Published: Jul. 11, 2021 at 6:43 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Landspouts can look like tornadoes and can be just as intimidating. In fact, the threats are the same for both tornadoes and landspouts. The between a landspout and a tornado is in how they form, how they look and the amount of damage they can cause.

The “normal tornado that most of us think of is the one that is a rotating column of air that drops down from a storm cloud. The typical tornado originates from a rotating supercell thunderstorms. A landspout tornado originates from a circulation on the ground that gets sucked up into a storm.

Supercell thunderstorms can grow vertically and reach different levels of the atmosphere. The winds within a supercell thunderstorm can have different speeds or vary in direction with height. As a storm is developing, winds can rotate, that rotation can become so strong that the entire column of air will start to move toward the ground. Once that column of air comes in contact with the ground it is deemed a tornado. Tornadoes are easy to spot on radar because they form wind at the cloud level begin to spin. Tornadoes can pack winds up 200 mph and can last a lot longer than landspouts.

When it comes to a landspout tornado, there is no rotating or supercell thunderstorm. For a landspout, air near the ground is spinning due to random eddies or colliding boundaries and that spinning air gets sucked up into a developing thunderstorm. Landspout tornadoes are short-lived and normally weak but can still pack winds of up to 100 mph. Landspouts are usually invisible unless they spin dirt or debris from the ground. Landspouts form at the ground so they are often below the radar and hard to dect on radar.

National Weather Service Cleveland, OH explanation on landspouts vs tornadoes
National Weather Service Cleveland, OH explanation on landspouts vs tornadoes(NWS Cleveland OH)

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.