What part of the storm are tornadoes?


I know how tornadoes work, or at least how we think they work, but I’m confused as to what exactly they are. Are they an independent system INSIDE the parent storm (usually supercells) or are they THE storm?

In: 2

There’s not a sharp line of what counts as “a” storm, so there’s no objective answer to your question. But it’s probably closest to say that they’re part of the storm. They’re not independent of it, since they’re spawned by the parent storm’s rotation, but they’re usually much smaller than the storm as a whole.

It is the rolling edge of the storm, usually the front. This rolling edge gets twisted upright by the updraft and then it goes into a runaway effect due to the temperature difference on each end.

You can see it happening in many places across the Midwest US. I’ve driven near several before. You can see the storm edge go from expanding with a cloud front to turbulent and chaotic with parts of clouds moving in weird ways just before a visible funnel forms and descends.