Air Pressure and Tornadoes
Name: Kelly Van N.
How does air pressure affect tornadoes?
Tornadoes are spawned by strong thunderstorms. Thunderstorms usually
form in areas of low pressure, where warm moist air at lower elevations
converges to form areas or lines of thunderstorms. Tornadoes are not
found in areas of high pressure, as the air is usually drier and does not
converge at the lower levels.
Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Air pressure may not affect tornados so much as the tornado, and especially the vortex in the
thunderstorm that causes the
tornado, affects the pressure at the ground. The tornado vortex is a spinning column of air
that is rapidly rising. Rising air
in this mini-low pressure system creates an area of reduced pressure below the tornado. In a
sense, it is a mini low pressure system with much greater rotational speed and a much smaller
horizontal extent than a low pressure weather system.
David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory
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Update: June 2012