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Ritchie Belyea, age 10, of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, for his question:

Where do Tornadoes start to form?

The weather must set up a huge stage in order to create a little tornado.

Great air masses form a weather front hundreds of miles long. There is warfare along the battle front between warm air and coil air, damp air and dry. Winds stir up more trouble, blowing in from the sidelines. .As a rule, a strong, warm wind blowing down from the western mountains is needed to complete the blustery stage. And when all is set, the huge weather front creates not just one, but often dozens of twisting tornadoes.

Each tornado is a small item in the massive weather picture. It begins to form in stormy clouds high above the ground. The turbulent winds form a twisting spiral that twirls faster and faster. The center is a column of light, very thin air that is almost a vacuum. It works like a house cleaning vacuum, sucking particles of the dark cloud, raindrops and perhaps hailstones, into its center. The young tornado hatches and pokes its wild, whirling finger down toward the ground. As a rule, the dark funnel dangles in the sky. But if it dips low enough to touch the ground, it leaves a narrow path of total destruction.

 

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