Weather Facts: Tornado rotation

Weather Facts: Tornado rotation

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Gabe McDaid was wondering if tornadoes in the northern hemisphere can really turn clockwise like they mentioned on the FOX show Bones.

Before we can answer this weather question we first must understand how tornadoes form.

In tornado alley the cool and dry air drops from the Rockies and slams into the warm and humid air coming from the Gulf of Mexico. This clash of air masses helps create wind shear which could lead to tornado trouble.

Within a powerful storm, the wind direction will change with height plus the wind speed will increase as you go higher up.

This combination will create an invisible horizontal spinning effect like a steamroller in the lower atmosphere. Rising air within the storm's updraft tilts the rotation air vertically.

As the swirling motion touches ground and picks up dirt and moisture a tornado is born.

Severe storms take on the same spin as the low pressure system that spawned them. So that spin is carried on by the tornado.

Most of the tornadoes in the northern hemisphere rotate counter-clockwise. Only 5 percent of tornadoes rotate clockwise.

The only time a tornado could spin clockwise is if the storm is being influenced by another storm nearby or there is a rapid change with the storm's forward motion.

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