Tornadoes

T ornadoes grow out of particularly strong thunderstorms. The updraft and downdraft of an intense thunderstorm cause a horizontal column of air to begin to rotate like a pencil rolling between your palms. When an updraft happens to push upward on a part of this horizontally spinning vortex, it is pushed into a horseshoe shape, with its bowed end upward and its two ends pointing downward. One or both of those spinning tubes can extend all the way to the ground, touching off a tornado.

Tornadoes are not often a hazard for pilots aloft simply because they accompany thunderstorms of such size and power that weather alerts and common sense would send pilots off in other directions in search of safer skies. But on the ground, tornadoes can cause massive damage to airplanes.

Winds as fast as 200 m. p.h. or more are common in and around tornadoes. The high winds and blowing debris can break apart airplanes on airport parking areas and demolish hangars that shelter others. Whaf s more, the thunderstorms that give birth to tornadoes often pound the area with hail, causing thousands of dollars of damage.

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