Just about every chase season, I get to see a supercell do something terrible and miraculous all at once: produce a tornado.
The build up to a tornado in most supercells is pretty predictable. How a tornado forms is just incredible to witness. Check out the video we recently posted highlighting four steps of the process.
From warm, moist air feeding into the storm to the air being pushed down and around the low-level meso — there’s a typical process most storms undergo to produce a tornado. The exact details of how all of these ingredients interact to produce a tornado is still something scientists are examining, but in terms of storm spotting and storm chasing you can anticipate a storm’s next move pretty easily if you know what to look for.
The video above shows four of the key processes we tend to look for. (1) A mesocyclone indicating the presence of a supercell. (2) Warm/moist air being pulled into the storm. (3) Air being pulled down the back of the storm and around the low-level meso (the RFD). (4) An area of persistent and increasing rotation in the storm’s base.