5 Types Of Tornadoes


This is a destructive tornado.

Milo Ovsak, Senior Reporter

It is getting dark outside, the wind is blowing and the sky starts rotating. Then you hear an eerie noise and sirens roaring. Tornado on the ground! What would you ever do if you were in a tornado? Did you know that there are different types of tornadoes? These are five different tornadoes that you might run into.

#1. Supercell tornado


The supercell tornado is the most common tornado, and also the most powerful. This tornado is created by the supercell storm, which is usually isolated by other thunderstorms, and characterized by the presence of a mesocyclone. This tornado is rated by the “Fujita Scale” and is measured by the damage to structures. The supercell tornado usually happens in the plains, usually in the Spring. However, some tornadoes occasionally happen in the eastern part of the U.S. Supercells would look like this on the radar.

#2 Landspout

The landspout is a tornado that forms from a non-supercell storm and does not form from the sky, but from the ground. Usually, since there isn’t any type of supercell storm with this tornado, it is usually hard to see on radar. The landspout does not cause much damage to structures, or deaths, however, it is considered a tornado and you should take shelter if you see one. Usually, landspouts are as strong as EF2 Tornado or less (about 111 mph or less).


#3 Dust Devil

The dust devil does not form during thunderstorms, but it forms on a hot sunny day. Dust devils form when hot air near the surface rises quickly to the cold air above it and performs an updraft. If the conditions are right, it might begin to rotate and create a dust devil. Dust devils usually form in desert and arid areas such as Arizona. Although they don’t form in thunderstorms, they can be just as dangerous reaching 60 mph or more. In China, a dust devil lifted a bouncy house into the air and killed two children inside of it. 

#4 Waterspout

There are two types of waterspouts. The fair-weather waterspouts, and the tornadic waterspout (A supercell tornado over water). The most common type of waterspout is the fair-weather waterspout. The fair-weather waterspout is usually not associated with thunderstorms and forms along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. Non-Tornadic waterspouts are not that dangerous, usually have winds lower than 67 mph. Although non-tornadic waterspouts are fairly weak, anybody in the water should go to shore or shelter.


#5 Fire Whirl

Have you ever wondered, is there such a thing as a fire tornado? Yes, yes there is. A fire whirl, most commonly a “fire devil”, usually occurs during wildfires. They occur when a rising heat and turbulent wind conditions combine to form whirlwinds and are usually visible by smoke in the air. Fire whirls are very dangerous by carrying burning debris which can seriously injure people, and have wind speeds of more than a hundred miles, which can knock down trees and burn them.


In conclusion, tornadoes can cause destruction, death, and huge payments. Any tornado can be dangerous and you need to stay safe during such an event. To learn more about Types of Tornadoes, go to this NOAA.