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Weather experiment learning about tornadoes

Posted at 5:57 AM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 06:59:55-04

GRAND RAPIDS — We had some severe storms last night with large hail, lightning and wind with even the possibility of an isolated tornado. We didn’t see any tornadoes but do you know how they form? Today's experiment we will learn more about how they form. The more you know about how storms work the less scared and more prepared we can all be! Let's create a tornado!

What you need:
-clear small plastic bottle
-dish soap
-food coloring

Step 1: Fill your plastic bottle up with water about ¾ of the way full.

Step 2: Add several drops of dish soap and shake until bubbles form and settle at the top.

Step 3: Add food coloring or glitter to make a more exciting tornado

Step 4: Flip your bottle upside down and shake in a vertically circular motion. Watch a tornado funnel form in the bottle!

Throughout the last several weeks we learned about how a thunderstorm forms. We know they need three main ingredients to form including moisture, instability and lift. When tornadoes form we need one more extra ingredient of rotation or in storm terms wind shear or a change in wind direction in the atmosphere.

When storms form we will have unstable warm, moist air rise while cold air sinks pretty quickly causing the two to collide, then a lifting mechanism in the way of things like a cold front or lake breeze will happen before adding in that rotation element.

Now that we know more about how tornadoes form we need to stay safe during them and that involves knowing where your family’s safe space is. This should be an area in your home that is in the lowest level and the most interior room with no windows. This space is typically a closet or a bathroom in your basement. Of course, the space safe just described will help keep us safe during severe thunderstorms and tornadoes but there's all different kinds of severe weather that can need safe spaces and preparedness plans for.

Today the National Weather Service and Weather Ready Nation Ambassadors are asking us to take a “safe place selfie” and post is online at 11:11 this morning using the hashtag #safeplaceselfie. This action alone will help us understand and all be on the same page to stay safe in any extreme weather that exists in our area. In West Michigan we can mostly see severe thunderstorms with possible tornadoes, flooding, erosion and strong winter storms. Plenty of weather situations to get prepared for and stay safe!

Try it out making a tornado at home and make sure to post that safe place selfie at 11:11 this morning! Send our meteorologist Candace Monacelli your pictures doing this experiments at home! She will feature future meteorologists on my Facebook page daily!