GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — If wind shear, moisture, lift and instability are present in the atmosphere, tornado formation may occur.
There are several different severe weather scenarios that create a favorable environment for tornado formation. That brings us to this week’s question, what types of severe storms can spawn a tornado?
Most tornadoes form from a supercell thunderstorm. Supercells contain a mesocyclone, which is simply just an extremely large column of rotating rising air. This type of severe thunderstorm is often seen with low-pressure systems.
It is also common for landfall hurricanes to spawn tornadoes with the abundant amount of moist warm air and instability present within a tropical system. Usually, tornadoes created with a hurricane are isolated spin-up tornadoes.
On the flip side, strong wildfires fuel huge firestorms, which also create fire whirls, otherwise known as a firenado. Then, there are also dust devils. Dust devils are a whirl of dust that form from the ground up, unlike textbook tornadoes that form from thunderstorms. They are usually short lived and are most often harmless.
Waterspouts are another form of tornado that moves from land to water or just simply form over water. They also form from thunderstorms and carry the same characteristics as a normal land tornado.
In 2018, there was even speculation of a volcanic tornado, otherwise referred to as a lavanado, which spun up during a volcanic eruption in Hawaii. This event has not been confirmed by scientists, but there are a few photos that document the tornado full of lava in question.
So, it’s pretty much safe to say snowstorms seem to be one of the only safe bets when it comes to avoiding tornadoes.