ES2006  Examine an animation of a tornado.
  !   Click the image to see the animation. Click the button below to compare the size of the tornado with buildings.

Scientists developed this computer simulation to better understand the movement of air within the vortex of a tornado. Colored surfaces in the diagram show areas of equal air pressure, with pressure decreasing from gray through red, orange, and blue. Air inside the blue surfaces experiences the most intense upward movement. "Marker" particles that begin on the ground show various airflow paths in the tornado; the line behind each particle indicates its relative speed and direction. The simulation shows that one of the strongest parts of a vortex is where a tornado touches the ground.

Simulation performed at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Research: W.S. Lewellen, D.C. Lewellen and A. Gel, West Virginia University. Visualization: Aytekin Gel, West Virginia University, and Grace Giras, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center