The difference between waterspout and tornado


CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – An isolated storm on the northwest side of Corpus Christi moved southwest past Driscoll and north of Bishop early Tuesday evening, August 23. A landspout tornado developed west of Driscoll before dissipating. No damage was reported.


There are different types of tornadoes and although a landspout is still a type of tornado, it is created differently than a supercell tornado.

A supercell tornado always forms from top to bottom as a funnel cloud that descends to the ground. A waterspout always forms from the ground to the thunderstorm when there is converging air.

landspout vs tornado.PNG


Tornadoes form in supercell thunderstorms which are rotating updrafts. They are strong enough to stretch inside a thunderstorm and form a rotating column of air that can reach the surface. Once it hits the ground, a tornado forms.

A waterspout does not form in supercell thunderstorms. The convergence of the surface boundaries and the updraft of the storm forms the circulation. The circulation is then pulled upwards to the base of the storm.

A landspout is not a long lasting tornado and tends to be weak and last only a short time. According to the EF (Enhanced Fujita) scale, waterspouts are generally at the EF0 level where the intensity of the winds is weak. However, in some cases, the winds inside a waterspout can reach 100 miles per hour.

A landspout tornado is difficult to predict because doppler radar cannot detect them, unlike tornadoes that form in the supercell. Doppler radar can detect wind speeds and direction inside the storm, indicating rotation and a possible tornado.

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