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Synthesis Example Essay

780 words - 4 pages

4 July 2012
The Formation of Storms and Tornadoes
What are tornadoes and what role do thunderstorms play in the formation of tornadoes? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) defines a tornado as “a violently rotating column of air extending from a cumuliform cloud, such as a thunderstorm, to the ground (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).” Not all thunderstorms will produce a tornado. Several factors and circumstances must be in place for the formation of a tornado to take place. Thunderstorms take place when moisture, unstable air masses, and lift are in the right place at the right time.
A common misconception about tornadoes is that a tornado will form ...view middle of the document...

There is typically little to no rain or lightning and this phase of a thunderstorm lasts very briefly, usually about ten minutes. The second phase of thunderstorm formation is the mature stage. The mature phase is the period in which hail, driving rain, frequent and dangerous lightning, and tornadoes occur. Most thunderstorms in the mature phase will only last ten to twenty minutes, though some storms may last longer and evolve into a Supercell. The final phase of a thunderstorm is the dissipating stage in which downdrafts, or downward flowing air is the prominent characteristic of the storm. Rainfall will decrease and clouds will appear wispy rather than towering and fluffy as in the developing stage. Lightning remains a danger, as well as strong winds, during the dissipating phase (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
How do thunderstorms and tornadoes correlate to one another? Meteorologists have found that before a thunderstorm begins to form, the winds within the immature storm cell will change direction and the wind speed will increase. This change in speed and direction creates a spinning effect in the lower atmosphere. The rising air associated with a thunderstorm’s updraft, or lift, tilts the spinning air column and positions it vertically (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). This will show on a Doppler radar as rotation called a hook echo, or a curled, finger-like projection attached to...

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