Last week numerous landspouts were spotted near the Lubbock airport. Amy James of Austin wonders what is the difference between a landspout and a tornado?
When you think of a tornado, you think of a large, rotating cloud coming from a monster thunderstorm.
A landspout is like a cousin of a tornado. They may look the same but they have many differences. The term landspout is slang for a non-supercell tornado.
A landspout is born when a small circulation forms near the ground when different surface boundaries come together. Eventually the updrafts from storms or the heating of the day will force the circulation into the storm.
Tornadoes form differently. The rotation is stronger within the storm. A column of rotating air will extend from cloud level to the ground making for more powerful tornadoes.
Landspouts are weaker and smaller than tornadoes. They are just bigger dust devils and wider at the bottom and more narrow as it reaches the clouds. They also usually occur in hotter, drier and lower instability environments.
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