Tornado season is right around the corner so it makes sense to review what causes a tornado and what makes it so deadly.
Instability – An unstable airmass is one where there are warm temperatures at the surface and colder temperatures aloft. The warmer the air at the surface and the colder the air aloft, typically the greater the instability.
Wind Shear – While instability is required for thunderstorms, they may not become severe unless there is enough wind shear. Wind shear is wind changing direction and/or speed with height. This allows storms to tilt and rotate allowing them to last much longer than ordinary thunderstorms do.
Lift – You typically need something to force air to rise. While instability will force air to rise, you will often need something to get the parcel of warm & moist air to start rising. This can come in the form of mountains, fronts, and boundaries. However, seeing as Central Illinois is void of mountains, cold fronts, warm fronts and outflow boundaries can act as our lifting mechanisms.
Moisture – If an approaching area of low pressure is the engine, then low-level moisture is the fuel for these storms. For storms to become severe, we need moisture. This moisture often comes from the Gulf of Mexico. The more moisture we have, the greater the instability… Severe Weather Preparedness
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