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Landspout! Wait, What’s A Landspout?

7 Jun 2017, 2:47 pm

A string of tornadoes touched down in parts of the High Plains, but these tornadoes weren’t of the ‘normal’ variety.

At least five tornadoes had been reported in North Dakota on Wednesday, according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). These tornadoes are being classified as “landspout” tornadoes. So, what exactly is a landspout, and what sorts of hazards could they pose?

Before anything else, take a look at these snapshots of one landspout in North Dakota from Wednesday afternoon:

Landspouts form in a completely different way from tornadoes from big, bad supercell thunderstorms. Those tornadoes usually form from the top down towards the surface, from a wall cloud, but landspout tornadoes tend to form from the ground up towards the base of a cloud. Winds converge towards a surface boundary, usually a cold front, and they often collide as they approach from different directions, leading to microscale (very small) areas of spin, and thus the possibility for a landspout.

They are usually weaker and shorter lived than ‘regular’ tornadoes, but they still pose a threat to life and property. Winds inside a landspout can still reach 100 miles-per-hour (MPH). Additionally, they are also much more difficult to forecast, meaning that there may not be as much lead time for a warning on one. That said, landspouts usually only last a few minutes and typically dissipate quickly.

Landspouts are most common in the spring and summer months, so be sure to stay weather aware if the forecast calls for the possibility of one of these particular tornado types.

Stay with WeatherNation for the latest on the severe weather.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

One response to “Landspout! Wait, What’s A Landspout?

  1. Tornadoes are not common here in Arizona, but we do get landspouts at times. We had one yesterday (July 14, 2017). We are in the midst of our Monsoon Season here, so air flows are different than most of the year.

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