TORNADOES (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Geography)

News-CRUX-10     3rd April 2024        

Context: Recently, a deadly tornado swept through the Mainaguri area of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal, claiming the lives of five individuals and leaving over a hundred injured within a span of 10 minutes.


  • About: A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that comes into contact with the Earth's surface as well as a cumulonimbus cloud or, on rare occasions, the cumulus cloud's base.

oSpiraling wind descends like an elephant's trunk with immense force from violent thunderstorms, with very low pressure at the centre, causing massive havoc along the way.

  • Destructive Potential: Tornadoes can utterly destroy well-constructed structures, uproot trees, and throw objects through the air like devastating missiles.
  • Characteristics: Most tornadoes have wind speeds of less than 110 miles per hour (180 kilometers per hour), are about 250 feet (80 meters) across, and travel a few miles (several kilometers) before dissipating.
  • Extreme Tornadoes: Tornadoes can reach wind speeds of more than 300 miles per hour (480 km/h), have diameters of more than two miles (3 km), and can stay on the ground for dozens of miles (more than 100 km).
  • Geographic Distribution: Tornadoes have been recorded on all continents except Antarctica. 

oThey are most common in the middle latitudes where conditions are often favorable for convective storm development. 

oThe United States has the most tornadoes of any country, as well as the strongest and most violent tornadoes.

  • Favourable Condition: Warm, humid air collides with cold, dry air. The denser cold air is pushed over the warm air, usually producing thunderstorms.
  • Impact: Destroy buildings and trees and disrupt transportation, power, water, gas, and other services.
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