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Name: Kelley C.
Status: other
Age:  20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

Dear Sir or Madam, I am currently working as an intern in a second grade classroom and I am planning on using this wonderful website in my science curriculum. However, before i introduced this to my students I wanted to test the waters for myself. So, our next science lesson is concentrating on storms and the children have shown a particular interest in what causes the formation of tornados and hurricanes. Could you please enlighten me as to the causes of these phenomenon? Thank you for time and the invaluable resources that you provide, Kelley Crenshaw.

Dear Kelly-

We would be most delighted to help. There is a search engine for just this site found at:

For your first topic, type in tornado in the window, and about 30 hits will come up. Do the same for hurricane. If the answer to your questions are not there, then drop us a line and we will try to help. Another good search engine is

Although I did not directly answer your question, I hope that this helps you mine information from the NEWTON BBS Ask A Scientist service.

---Nathan A. Unterman


Go here on the Newton site:

Type "tornado" and/or "hurricane" into the search engine window. You'll discover at least 40 references to tornadoes and hurricanes ready and waiting for your perusal. Good luck. We are waiting for your questions.



You will probably receive a number of replies on this subject.

Certainly an important point is that tornados and hurricanes are formed by very different mechanisms.

Tornados result from vertical wind shear in the vicinity of a thunderstorm, often initiated by a nearby jetstream; this shear, if strong enough, becomes translated into a vortex of spinning air (often the thunderstorm itself is also set into a rotating motion). The tornado vortex often extends well up into the thunderstorm.

Hurricanes are formed from the organization of multiple thunderstorms into a large cyclonic system that is fed by the warm waters of the equator and/or gulf stream circulations in different parts of the world (most notably in the Atlantic).

If you would like more specific information, you could do a search on the internet and field a wealth of information, statistics and photographs about tornados and hurricanes. If your classroom has a computer with an internet connections, this would be a good exercise for your students.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory

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