What were the tops of the thunderstorm that produced the may 20 moore, ok tornado?

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  • 8 years ago
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    It appears they were topping out at about 42,000 feet on average. The tropopause at the time was about 39,000 feet, so there was some overshooting.

    Source(s): I'm a meteorologist
  • 8 years ago

    A tornado happens when there is moist warm air under cold dry one, and the difference is great. Warm air then rises and moisture condenses when reaching dew point, causing clouds and precipitations.

    This is what happens in all low pressures. It is all about the thermodynamic effects of air masses with different temperatures, moisture and pressure. The greater the difference, the stronger the weather.

    On the top of a tornado, there is a very strong convection of rising air. That causes air to rise but some of it also goes down as downdrafts or microbursts. Air doesn't mix easily. At the edge of those fast moving air masses, shear winds occur. It becomes very turbulent and as the owner and pilot of a light aircraft, I know how it feels!

    The shear wind zone often start spinning. Why? simply because fluids do it naturally. The water draining from your sink could come down straight but any difference of pressure will make it spin one way of the other, and increase in it.

    The same happens with some very strong shear winds under a very powerful convection. A tornado actually starts horizontally. But the convection above pulls it up and it is only when the end of the "twister" reaches the ground, lifting debris, that we call it a tornado.

    EDITED: Oops, after reading Cyswxman's answer, I realize that I was misreading your question. Sorry! ;-)

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