A tornado is a twisted, funnel-shaped cloud of wind that strikes quickly, with little or no warning. They can destroy homes and lives in minutes.
In an effort to better understand Virginia's geographic tornado potential, a team of researchers from Old Dominion University looked at the region's tornado history. They discovered significant patterns in tornado activity that may help predict future storms, according to Allen.
A thunderstorm develops when warm, moist air moves in front of a cold front. This unstable air can become ripe for tornadoes.
Heavy rains can also lead to tornadoes, especially in mountainous regions and the Chesapeake Bay area. Watch for signs of storms that may be forming a tornado, such as skies that turn dark and greenish or have increasing wind speeds, or the formation of funnel clouds.
While Virginia is not prone to tornadoes like some states, Weather Service meteorologist Phil Hysell says it’s important for people to always be prepared in the event of a tornado. He says it’s best to have a plan and multiple ways to receive weather alerts.
A weak tornado is a tornado that only lasts a few minutes and has winds that are less than 110 mph. These tornadoes are not as dangerous as stronger ones, but they can cause serious damage to people and structures.
A tornado is a funnel cloud that forms over a thunderstorm. It has strong winds and it can spin in a clockwise or a veering direction.
There are different types of tornadoes, including wind squalls, waterspouts and hailstorms. Waterspouts are most common along the Gulf Coast.
They form when tiny water droplets are caught in the updraft of a thunderstorm. When they get too heavy, they fall to the ground.
Gustnadoes, on the other hand, are tornadoes that form when they are attached to a rapidly growing congestus cloud. They are usually only a few minutes long and have very small diameters.
The state of Virginia does not see nearly as many tornadoes as some parts of the country, but it's important to always be ready in the event one happens nearby. That's the advice of Phil Hysell, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg.
He says it's also important to have a storm preparedness plan that's nailed down ahead of time, so you know what to do if you receive a weather warning. That includes ensuring you have a way to receive notifications, such as smartphones, and have the right supplies on hand.
According to the National Weather Service, the peak of tornado activity in Virginia occurs between April and September. But they can happen at any time of year.
When a hurricane passes the state, Virginians may experience tornadoes. They can cause heavy rain, strong winds and floods that damage homes, cars and even utility systems.
Storm surges are another potential problem. Depending on how large the storm is, they can erode the coastline and drown cities like Norfolk or Virginia Beach.
According to Old Dominion University, there is an area of the state that is especially prone to tornadoes. It is called Tornado Alley and it includes parts of the Eastern Seaboard that experience a high number of tornadoes each year.
Most of the tornadoes in the state occur during spring and summer. However, there is also a period in fall that has been known to produce some tornadoes as well.