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WeatherTalk: June is the peak month for tornadoes in our region

Life-threatening tornadoes form as a part of rotating thunderstorms with powerful updrafts.

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FARGO — June is typically the peak month for tornadoes across our region. The classic explanation, “Cold air from the north clashes with warm and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico,” is a gross oversimplification. Although some weak tornadoes can form from rather mundane thundershowers, the truly life-threatening tornadoes form as a part of rotating thunderstorms with powerful updrafts. These supercell thunderstorms are also capable of producing large hail and damaging winds and do not always produce a tornado.

The specific mechanism for tornado development is still not well understood, but it occurs in the updraft region and may be triggered by various crosswind interactions. Supercell storms are usually found in an environment of relatively strong upper level wind blowing stronger than, and at an angle to, surface winds and also where surface air is warm and humid, which makes it buoyant (unstable).

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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