Weather Wednesday: What you need to know about tornadoes

Weather Wednesday

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Tornadoes can happen at any place and at any time. That means mid-Michigan can have dangerous tornadoes develop where we work, learn, and play.

Tornadoes form from thunderstorms. A column of air within the storm begins to rotate, which is called a mesocyclone. The column of air is able gain speed as it spins. When a figure skater pulls their arms in, they are able to spin faster, and the same happens with the column of air.

With the thunderstorm rotating, a wall cloud forms. Once the wall cloud forms, a thunderstorm can then develop a funnel cloud. A funnel cloud looks like a tornado, but it never touches the ground. Once the funnel cloud touches the ground, it becomes a tornado.

After reviewing data from 1950 to 2020, our 15 mid-Michigan counties have recorded 325 confirmed tornadoes. When looking at the numbers, the tornado count is higher to the eastern side of mid-Michigan. However, the main takeaway point is that tornadoes can form anywhere.

The strength of tornadoes reported locally tends to be on the lower end. The majority of recorded tornadoes are of EF0, EF1, and EF2 strength. Though weaker tornadoes are more common, EF4 and EF5 tornadoes have been recorded.

For more information about how tornadoes form, the number of tornadoes, and their strength, check out the video above.

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