What Does a Tornado Look Like on Radar?

February 6, 2023

what does a tornado look like on radar

What Does a Tornado Look Like?

A tornado is a funnel-shaped cloud that can quickly spit out large amounts of debris. These debris can hurt, damage, and even kill a person, especially if the person is inside the cloud or a nearby building.

It can happen at any time, and often happens during a hurricane or severe thunderstorm. If you know how to spot a tornado on radar, you can take steps to avoid the danger and get out of the way if it does hit.

What Does Red and Green Mean on Radar?

The red and green colors in a tornado radar image indicate the direction of winds. Red shows winds that are moving away from the radar, and green shows winds that are moving toward the radar.

When a couplet of these winds is next to each other, it indicates strong rotation in the storm.

If the couplet is large and relatively weak, it suggests broad rotation within a thunderstorm that needs to be watched but may not show a tornado on the ground.

This is usually not the case with a tornado that has formed in a supercell.

Another signature of a tornado on radar is a hook echo, which is seen when there's a swirling pattern that looks like a spiral turning clockwise with the "thickness" of the precipitation increasing (or a hook shape). A storm that has this radar signature will usually produce a tornado in that area.


Tornado Dave is the best place to learn more about severe weather and climate science. He's a veritable tornado of information, and he loves nothing more than educating others about the importance of being prepared for extreme weather events. Make sure to check in with Tornado Dave often, as he's always updating his blog with the latest news and information!
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