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TORNADOES!. FRONTS Weather is variable in the mid-latitudes. It can vary from mild and sunny, to cold and clear, to snowy and windy. What causes these.

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Presentation on theme: "TORNADOES!. FRONTS Weather is variable in the mid-latitudes. It can vary from mild and sunny, to cold and clear, to snowy and windy. What causes these."— Presentation transcript:


2 FRONTS Weather is variable in the mid-latitudes. It can vary from mild and sunny, to cold and clear, to snowy and windy. What causes these changes? They are mostly caused b the movement of low-pressure systems and their associated frontal systems.

3 What’s a Front? Air masses of different types don’t mix easily. FRONT – the boundary that separates opposing air masses Fronts vary in size (width can range from 200m  200km, and can be as high as 5km and as long as 2000km) Fronts can affect weather patterns in very large areas Fronts are most common at mid-latitudes where southward- moving polar air masses and northward- moving tropical air masses often meet.

4 The air masses on either side of a front may differ in temperature, humidity or both At the front, the less dense air mass rises over the denser air mass Fronts usually bring precipitation – at the frontal surface, the less dense air rises high into the troposphere. The air cools as it rises, and if the air is humid enough, clouds and precipitation form

5 Kinds of Fronts The weather associated with a particular front depends on the types of masses involved and the speed at which the front is moving. Fronts can occasionally occur between air masses that have the same temperature but different humidity. Scientists usually define fronts according to the temperature of the advancing air mass. 4 basic kinds of fronts: – Cold – Warm – Occluded – Stationary

6 Cold Fronts Cold front – the boundary between an advancing cold air mass and the warmer air mass it is displacing Since cold air is denser than warm air, cold air slides underneath the warm air and forces it upward. The type of weather a cold front brings depends on the type of air mass it is displacing

7 Cold Fronts EXAMPLE – if a cold air mass displaces warm, humid air in the summer, we often get thunderstorms If cold air displaces hot dry air, very little change In winter, a cold front is often marked by rain or snow showers Cold fronts have a steep slope, so the precipitation associated with the front covers a narrow band of ground Cold fronts move quickly and precipitation usually ends soon after the front passes

8 Warm Fronts Warm front – boundary formed between warm air displacing cold air The advancing warm air rises above the denser cold air mass, which retreats slowly The slope of a warm front is more gradual than that of a cold front, and the weather changes associated with the warm front are less dramatic

9 Signs of approaching warm front: High cirrus clouds, followed by cirrostratus and lower, thicker stratiform clouds Following cirrus and cirrostratus clouds are altostratus, which almost screen out the sun and moon Finally, heavy nimbostratus clouds arrive, and steady rain or snow begins The rain or snow associated with warm fronts covers a lot of ground area, and lasts for a day or more (different than cold fronts!) Thunderstorms not typical of warm front After front passes, weather warms

10 Occluded Fronts Cold fronts typically move twice as fast as warm fronts. If a cold front “catches up” to a warm front, the result is an occluded front. The warm air is caught between the two colder air masses and rises. As this warm air rises, it cools and causes cloudiness and precipitation

11 Stationary Fronts If a front is not moving forward, it is called a stationary front. As with other fronts, the warmer air rises over the denser, colder air, and clouds and precipitation may result If the front remains stationary for too long, flooding can occur.

12 Weather Associated with Pressure Systems When a low pressure system passes, the weather you experience depends on where the center of the low passes in relation to you For example, for us, if a low passes north of us, warm front may move over us, followed by a cold front If the low passes to the south, no fronts will move over us, but we might experience steady snow or rain

13 If a low pressure system heading East passes North of us …….. A warm front approaches from the west, cirrus clouds lead to cirrostratus, altostratus, nimbostratus and stratus. Steady snow or rain, followed by drizzle, marks the front’s approach When the warm front passes, the temperature warms, winds shift, and the skies may slowly clear. If the air is humid, showery precipitation may occur, particularly nearer the center of the low

14 As the cold front approaches, it is preceded by scattered showers and possibly thunderstorms As the cold front passes, the temperature drops, winds shift again, and the sky clears

15 High Pressure Systems High pressure areas are associated with fair weather, clear skies Winds blow outward from a high Little or no wind in the center of the high The still air there takes on the temperature and humidity of the aria, so highs are where air masses generally form.

16 Thunderstorms! Thunderstorms and their cumulonimbus clouds form in warm, moist, unstable air Storm clouds may be as high as 20km, and they bring torrential rain, damaging wind, lightning, thunder, hail and tornadoes Usually occur in afternoon because surface warming throughout the day causes air to become unstable

17 How do thunderstorms develop? A “trigger” forces part of the air to begin rising The trigger can be a mountainside or a front standing in the way of the unstable air, or the air can collide with an opposing wind. As the rising air reaches the condensation level, the heat released during condensation makes this air warmer and less dense than the surrounding air A cumulonimbus cloud quickly grows and a thunderstorm begins!

18 More about thunderstorms……. They consist of one or more convection cells They often form along fronts because frontal boundaries force air to rise Frontal thunderstorms are associated with large-scale low pressure systems and may start and stop for days All thunderstorms produce lightning!

19 Lightning!! Lightning is a discharge of electricity from a thundercloud to the ground, to another cloud, or to another spot within the cloud itself Lightning can also occur in the clouds of snowstorms, dust storms, or volcanic eruptions

20 Tornado! The word tornado may come from the Spanish word – tronada, which means thunderstorm, combined with the Spanish verb tornar (to turn)  tornado!

21 Tornadoes! A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that usually touches the ground In order for a thunderstorm to produce a tornado, it must contain a rotating updraft called a mesocyclone This updraft occurs when low-altitude winds are blowing at a different speed and in a different direction than winds higher up

22 Before a tornado develops, the rotating clouds of the mesocyclone may become visible at the base of the storm and may lower to form a wall cloud About 10 to 20 min later, a tornado may descend from the wall cloud However, only a third of all mesocyclones produce tornadoes, and a tornado may form without a visible mesocyclone or wall cloud

23 What causes tornadoes? It all starts with severe weather conditions that generate large cumulonimbus or “thunderhead” clouds These clouds usually form when a mass of warm, moist air meets a mass of cold, dry air, generating a strong frontal system If there is a strong high-altitude jet stream operating above it with winds of 50 mph or more, then the 3 moving air masses interact to form a strong wind shear that gets the clouds spinning

24 In tornado alley, the central plains have the right combination of conditions to make frequent tornadoes During the spring and summer, masses of cold, dry air come down from Canada, which meet warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico At the same time, the jet stream shifts southward and focuses its energy over the area Warm dry air may come east from the Southwest desert The Rocky Mountains blocks the spread of these air masses to the west, so they end up concentrated in a narrow zone

25 Tornado alley is their meeting point – huge frontal systems generated week after week! If these systems are large enough, tornadoes occur! Tornadoes are most common during the afternoon and evening when heat builds up during the day to reach a critical point and enough thunderstorms are produced The boundary between the 2 frontal systems usually trends northeast to southwest, so tornadoes usually travel northeasterly as well

26 The tornado is actually the core of the spinning vortex within the cloud, which spins on a horizontal axis as one air mass slides beneath the other A strong wind shear with updrafts of warm air an downdrafts of cold air tilts the horizontally rolling air into a vertical orientation If the vortex extends down to the ground, it becomes visible as it picks up dust and debris

27 Most tornadoes have wind speeds of 40 mph – 110 mph and their funnels are approximately 250 ft across. Some much larger or smaller

28 How do tornadoes cause damage? Wind speed – can lift almost anything and carry or tumble them long distances Large tornadoes can uproot and lift trees, rip asphalt off highways and flatten buildings Debris can be thrown long distances and can impale objects Tornadoes have extremely low air pressure at their centers which may cause windows to pop out of buildings or even cause buildings to explode because the air pressure inside is greater than the air pressure in the tornado!

29 Tornadoes can do weird things – pick up and carry cows, pluck feathers off chickens, pick up cars or railroads!

30 So, why do some thunderstorms turn into tornadoes? Cumulonimbus clouds are produced when a mass of warm, moist air meets a mass of cold, dry air, generating a strong frontal system If there is a strong high-altitude jet stream operating above it with winds of 150 mph or more, then the three moving air masses interact to form a strong wind shear that gets the cloud spinning

31 A tornado usually appears at the back edge of its parent thunderstorm and travels with the thunderstorm Tornadoes can occur anywhere and at any time of the year However – most common in “Tornado Alley” in spring and early summer Tornado Alley – Texas  S. Dakota

32 A tornado often appears as a vortex or a funnel-shaped cloud of flying debris Some tornadoes are rope shaped, some wedge shaped with more than one vortex A tornado’s funnel cloud results when the air pressure at its center is very low and air sucked into the funnel expands and cools Water vapor in the air condenses, forming a funnel- shaped cloud If the air is drier, or the pressure inside the tornado is higher, the tornado may consist of a cloud of dust and debris, creating a loud roaring sound

33 Where do they occur? Every continent except Antarctica Most common in American Midwest Documented in Africa, western Australia, New Zealand, South-central and eastern Asia, east-central South America and northwestern and southeast Europe Bangladesh – kill 200 people/year!

34 Increased sunlight of spring and early summer warms the air near the ground, while the air higher up is still cool The temperature difference makes the air unstable, resulting in severe thunderstorms Wind conditions in Tornado Alley ideal for mesocyclones to form because wind direction changes with elevation

35 Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale CategoryF-ScaleEstimated Wind Speed Effects WeakF065 – 118 km/hMinor damage, snaps small branches, breaks some windows F1119 – 181 km/hDowns trees, shifts mobile homes off foundations StrongF2182 – 253 km/hRips roofs off houses, destroys mobile homes, uproots large trees F3254 – 332 km/hPartially destroys buildings, lifts cars ViolentF4333 – 419 km/hLevels sturdy buildings, tosses cars F5420 – 513 km/hLifts and transports sturdy buildings

36 nvironment/environment-natural- disasters/tornadoes/tornadoes-101/ nvironment/environment-natural- disasters/tornadoes/tornadoes-101/ Tornado video clip 2:45 – national geographic Tornadoes 101 ronment/environment-natural- disasters/tornadoes/us-tornado-kansas- highway/

37 WJDQ WJDQ Arkansa GnrU GnrU outbreak-april-2014-south-midwest-recap outbreak-april-2014-south-midwest-recap slide show

38 For you to do : Research a tornado Describe where and when it took place Was there any warning? What was its intensity on the Fujita Scale (or enhanced operational Fujita Scale)? Effects – damage, injury, lives lost, damages to infrastructure and homes, socioeconomic issues Recovery/relief effort At least 2 sources Pictures and video clips

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