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Name: Teresa I.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001

I have a question from a student, 8 years old, named Veronica. She cannot find out how a tornado stops, or what makes the winds stop swirling.


The tornado motion is produced by vertical wind shear in the thunderstorm. Shear means that the wind direction (and sometimes the wind speed) is different at different altitudes. This is probably made more severe by the strong upward and downward winds inside the different parts of the thunderstorm.

When the storm starts to lose its strength or when the wind shear disappears, the tornado slows down and eventually dissipates.

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

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