A sequence of images showing the birth of a supercellular tornado. First, the rain-free cloud base lowers as a rotating wall cloud. This lowering concentrates into a funnel cloud, which continues descending simultaneously as a circulation builds near the surface, kicking up dust and other debris. Finally, the visible funnel extends to the ground, and the tornado begins causing major damage.
Tornadogenesis occurring in Falcon, Colorado. Note the faint dust swirl beneath the funnel cloud.
A diagram showing the contributing weather systems to Tornado Alley in the United States, a loosely-defined area that is prone to tornadoes.

Tornadogenesis is the process by which a tornado forms. There are many types of tornadoes and these vary in methods of formation. Despite ongoing scientific study and high-profile research projects such as VORTEX, tornadogenesis is a volatile process and the intricacies of many of the mechanisms of tornado formation are still poorly understood.[1][2][3]

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the surface and a cumuliform cloud base. Tornado formation is caused by the stretching and aggregating/merging of environmental and/or storm-induced vorticity that tightens it into an intense vortex. There are various ways this may come about and thus various forms and sub-forms of tornadoes. Although each tornado is unique, most kinds of tornadoes go through a life cycle of formation, maturation, and dissipation.[4] The process by which a tornado dissipates or decays, occasionally conjured as tornadolysis, is of particular interest for study as is tornadogenesis, longevity, and intensity.

  1. ^ Coffer, Brice E.; M. D. Parker (2017). "Volatility of Tornadogenesis: An Ensemble of Simulated Nontornadic and Tornadic Supercells in VORTEX2 Environments". Mon. Wea. Rev. 145 (11): 4605–4625. Bibcode:2017MWRv..145.4605C. doi:10.1175/MWR-D-17-0152.1.
  2. ^ Trapp, R. Jeffrey; R. Davies-Jones (1997). "Tornadogenesis with and without a Dynamic Pipe Effect". J. Atmos. Sci. 54 (1): 113–133. Bibcode:1997JAtS...54..113T. doi:10.1175/1520-0469(1997)054<0113:TWAWAD>2.0.CO;2.
  3. ^ Davies-Jones, Robert (28 January 2006). "Tornadogenesis in supercell storms: What We Know and What We Don't Know". Symposium on the Challenges of Severe Convective Storms. Atlanta, GA: American Meteorological Society.
  4. ^ French, Michael M.; D. M. Kingfield (2019). "Dissipation Characteristics of Tornadic Vortex Signatures Associated with Long-Duration Tornadoes". J. Appl. Meteorol. Climatol. 58 (2): 317–339. Bibcode:2019JApMC..58..317F. doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-18-0187.1.

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