How Tornadoes Work
Tornadoes are ferocious and dangerous storms. They whirl and spin like a top. Tornadoes have the power to destroy anything that gets in their way. The tornado is like a whirlpool of wind that develops from a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms develop when warm, moist air rises and cools. This creates clouds. Water vapor condenses and releases heat. This release of heat creates the energy in a thunderstorm. Under certain conditions, when the air moving up into the cloud is very strong, a tornado can develop.
The whirling winds are like a spinning column of air that comes down from the thundercloud. The winds can be as strong as 300 miles per hour (483 kilometers per hour). When the tornado reaches the ground, the whirling winds can cause a great deal of damage. The tornado on the ground follows the same path as the thundercloud. The larger tornadoes can travel fast and can last for hours.