Click the image to see the animation.
Click the button below to compare the size of the tornado
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
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