Understanding Tornado Skips
Tornadoes are one of the most destructive and deadly natural disasters, causing significant damage to homes, buildings, and infrastructure. While it is commonly known that tornadoes move in a straight line, many people are unaware of the phenomenon known as a "skipping tornado." Skipping tornadoes are a unique type of tornado that can cause significant damage in a short amount of time. In this article, we will discuss what a skipping tornado is, its characteristics, causes, variations, and safety precautions that you should take to protect yourself during a skip.
What is a Skipping Tornado?
A skipping tornado is a type of tornado that lifts off the ground and touches down again, sometimes multiple times, creating a zig-zagging pattern along its path. It is also known as a "bounce" or "hopping" tornado. Skipping tornadoes are less common than traditional tornadoes, but they can still be incredibly dangerous and cause significant damage.
Definition of Tornado Skips
Tornado skips occur when the vortex of a tornado loses contact with the ground and then reestablishes contact at a later point. Skipping tornadoes can travel significant distances without making contact with the ground, but they can also touch down multiple times along their path.
Characteristics of Skipping Tornadoes
Skipping tornadoes have some unique characteristics that set them apart from traditional tornadoes. They tend to be narrower and shorter than traditional tornadoes, and they can move faster due to their ability to lift off the ground and travel without friction. Additionally, skipping tornadoes tend to be less predictable than traditional tornadoes, making them more difficult to track and forecast accurately.
Causes of Skipping in Tornadoes
Skipping tornadoes occur due to a variety of factors, including changes in wind speed and direction, variations in moisture and temperature, and the presence of hills or other topographical features that can affect the vortex’s stability.
Factors that Affect Tornado Skipping
Several factors can affect tornado skipping, including the strength and size of the vortex, the surface conditions, and the presence of surrounding terrain. Tornadoes that form over open water or flat terrain are less likely to skip than those that form over hilly or mountainous terrain.
Variations of Skipping Tornadoes
There are several variations of skipping tornadoes, including suction spots, satellite tornadoes, and multiple-vortex tornadoes. Suction spots are small, localized areas of intense suction that can cause significant damage. Satellite tornadoes are small tornadoes that form around a larger tornado, while multiple-vortex tornadoes contain several smaller vortices within the larger tornado.
Damage Potential of Skipping Tornadoes
Skipping tornadoes can be incredibly destructive, causing significant damage to homes, buildings, and infrastructure. Because they are often less predictable than traditional tornadoes, they can catch people off guard and cause significant injuries or fatalities.
Forecasting Skipping Tornadoes
Forecasting skipping tornadoes can be challenging due to their unpredictable nature. Meteorologists use a variety of tools and techniques, including radar and satellite imagery, to track and forecast the movement of tornadoes. However, because skipping tornadoes can lift off the ground and travel without making contact, they can be more challenging to track accurately.
Safety Precautions During Tornado Skips
If you are in an area that is experiencing a skipping tornado, it is essential to take immediate action to protect yourself and your family. Seek shelter in a sturdy building or underground if possible, and avoid windows and other areas where debris could enter. If you are outside, seek shelter in a low-lying area, away from trees and other structures.
Conclusion: Understanding Tornado Skips
Tornado skips are a unique phenomenon that can cause significant damage and injury. While they are less common than traditional tornadoes, they are still a significant threat to those in their path. Understanding the characteristics, causes, and variations of skipping tornadoes can help you prepare for severe weather and take action to protect yourself and your family. Remember to stay informed and stay safe during severe weather events.