HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut sees a fair share of tornadoes in the area from time to time. While most recent touchdowns have been categorized as EF-0 or EF-1 by the NOAA, they can still cause major damage and can be deadly. Here's how tornadoes form and how to stay safe when a Tornado Warning is issued.
Tornadoes typically develop on warm humid days. As hot air rises and hits the cooler air above, moisture condenses into clouds.
This process, occurring on a grand scale, will eventually produce towering clouds and ultimately, a thunderstorm.
But we also need wind shear. Shear is wind speed or direction that changes with height. For example, at the ground, the air is moving at one speed or direction. But above our heads, the air is flowing another way!
In between these is where horizontal rotation develops. That rotation gets tilted vertically, when in the presence of a strong thunderstorm updraft.
As that rotation intensifies a wall cloud descends. While rotation continues to tighten, a funnel cloud becomes visible. This funnel is made up of water droplets from moisture getting continuously pulled into the storm.
It's only when a funnel cloud touches the ground and debris becomes visible, that we call it a tornado.
On June 1, 2011, a tornado touched down in Connecticut, starting right over the Connecticut River and moving into the southern section of downtown Springfield, Mass.
The winds were up to 160 MPH. The tornado left behind over $230 million in damage and claimed three lives.
While in a Tornado Warning, it's important to know how to stay safe.
When at home, go to the basement or the smallest center room. Be sure to stay away from all windows and stay covered.
If in a high-rise building, go to the lowest floor possible or seek shelter in interior stairwells.
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