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Tornadoes

  • By: David Alexander
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air pendant from a cumulonimbus (rain-producing) cloud. Tornadoes form as a result of instability in a stratified atmosphere and, when the instability is great, they can be highly destructive.

As a result of particular climatic conditions, the greatest impacts occur in North America, but other regions of the world also have a significant tornado risk, including Great Britain, Italy, Australia, and Bangladesh. Tornadoes are mostly spawned by concentrated convective storms (microcyclones), but they can also form in significant numbers on the periphery of hurricanes. Tornadoes over the ocean are termed waterspouts. Gentler, more localized rotating atmospheric disturbances in the desert are known as dust devils. A gustnado (gust-front tornado) is the name given to an incidence of cyclonic ...

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