can tornadoes go up hills

Can tornadoes go up hills? In this blog, we will investigate if tornadoes can travel up slopes and the degree of damage they can cause.

Tornadoes cannot go up hills for a variety of reasons, one of which is because tornadoes often circle in the same direction as the thunderstorm with which they are associated.

Keep reading to learn more!

Do Tornadoes Go Up and Down Hills?

Tornadoes thrive in warm and humid temperatures, which provides energy for the violent thunderstorms that may produce tornadoes. 

When it comes to higher heights, the golden rule is "the higher you go, the colder it becomes." 

This is simply due to environmental lapse rates or the temperature variation with height. 

However, here are the reasons why tornadoes can’t go up and down slopes:

1. The Speed And Size Of A Tornado

tornado speed and size

Tornadoes occur in a variety of forms and sizes. Don’t forget color, which varies according to the surface it covers and the dirt it collects.

Some tornadoes are so small and feeble that they go unnoticed and can’t travel upward in this instance. 

On the opposite end of the range, some tornadoes are so significant and devastating that they may destroy whole towns. 

These kinds of tornadoes can’t go either up or down the hills.

For Instance 

Tornadoes are typically 200 meters (660 feet) broad, with wind speeds of 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour.

In terms of distance, they seldom go more than 10 kilometers (6 miles).

On the other hand, the most dangerous ones may reach wind speeds of up to 300 miles per hour and have diameters of more than 3 kilometers (2 miles), which can go up and down hills.

2. The Types of Tornadoes

tornado types

Can tornadoes go up hills? So, the reason why tornadoes couldn’t move up and down the hill is due to the many types of tornadoes. 

Tornadoes are classified into several categories based on the amount of damage they may do.

Tornado with Multiple Vortices

In such instances, two or more spinning columns of air revolve around a common core.

These vortices often produce minor regions of greater damage along the tornado’s main course. 

The vortices themselves rotate in the tornado’s periphery zone.

Waterspouts Tornado

tornado over water

It is a tornado that forms over a body of water, generally an ocean or sea.

They are comparable to mesocyclonic thunderstorm tornadoes, except they originate over a body of water. 

A waterspout is not a damaging tornado since it spans less than 2 kilometers. Tornadoes of this category often generate EF2 or less damage.

Landspout Tornado

They are comparable to waterspout tornadoes in terms of relative weakness, short lifetime, and a tiny, smooth condensation funnel that often does not reach the surface. 

The spinning motion begins near the ground. Therefore there is no revolving updraft. 

They are normally weaker than conventional tornadoes but may produce powerful winds that can cause significant damage.

Dust-Devil Tornado

They are vertically revolving columns of air, similar to typical tornadoes. They do, however, appear under clear skies and are quite feeble. 

On a hot day, they occur when a strong hot updraft forms near the ground.

When the sun warms dry land, a twisting column of air forms, resulting in a Dust-Devil tornado. 

In Australia, these tornadoes are usually referred to as willy.

Gustnado Tornado

This tornado features a gusty vertical updraft of air. They are not linked to a cloud base. 

They arise when a cold, dry updraft of air meets with stagnant wet, cool air, creating a rolling effect.

A gustnado is a short-lived storm that lasts from a few seconds to many minutes.

3. The Tornadoes’ Duration of Occurrence

duration of tornado

The length of a tornado determines if tornadoes can go up or down the hills.

Tornado duration is directly proportional to intensity, with more severe tornadoes lasting longer

However, this estimate is deceiving since uncommon but long-lived powerful tornadoes significantly weigh the average. 

Most tornadoes are short-lived, lasting approximately two to three minutes on average. With this kind, most tornadoes can’t go up or down the hills.

Strong tornadoes have an average duration of around 8 minutes, whereas severe occurrences have an average lifetime of about 25 minutes. 

This can potentially go up and down the hills. In extreme situations, violent occurrences may endure for more than three hours.

4. How Tornadoes are Formed

tornado formation

Another reason why tornadoes can’t go up the hills is how they originate.

The creation of a tornado requires two critical factors: geography and rotation

Tornado development and life cycle may be defined in phases as we explain why tornadoes can’t go up and down the hill:

Formation of a Tornado

Downdraughts inside the supercell storm are descending currents of relatively cold, dense air that aid in the concentration of rotation and the reduction of it to lower levels. 

Because spinning cannot occur on a sloping surface, tornadoes cannot go up and down the slope.

The rotation may become so intensely concentrated that a narrow column of furiously revolving air arises.

A tornado is formed when this furiously spinning column of air approaches the earth.

Condensation funnels, funnel-shaped clouds created by the tornado vortex’s drastically decreased pressure, are commonly visible.

Tornadoes may be seen more clearly because of the high winds that carry dust and other debris.

5. The Storm Development

development of storm

Another reason why tornadoes can’t go uphills is the storm formation. The sun warms the earth, which heats the air near the ground.

Localized pockets of air rise when they get warmer than their surroundings.

Shallow cumulus clouds form when these heated bubbles of air ascend to a suitable height. 

Suppose the temperature in the surrounding atmosphere quickly falls with height (an unstable atmosphere). 

In that case, the heated bubbles may climb to considerably larger heights, leading to significantly deeper, stronger ascending air currents (updraughts) and accompanying deep cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. 

In this situation, the temperature rapidly drops near the top of the slope, making it hard for tornadoes to move up and down the hill.

6. Storm Organisation

how storms are organized

Moving air is obstructed by mountains. The wind carries air and clouds up the mountain slopes.

This makes going up and down the hill tough for the tornadoes. 

However, if the preceding process happens in an atmosphere with severe vertical wind shear (strong vertical wind shear), the thunderstorm updraught may begin to spin.

This is because of the extreme wind shear, which causes the atmosphere to spin horizontally. 

The strong updraft causes this rolling motion to be vertically tilted, causing the spin to occur around a vertical axis in the same way as a merry-go-round rotates. 

Thunderstorms with sustained and deep rotation are referred to as supercells.

7. Dissipation of a Tornado

dissipation of tornado

Tornado movement is determined by tornado dissipation. The cold downdraughts gradually encircle the tornado, severing the warm air supply. 

During this stage, the tornado usually narrows as the vortex disappears. This is why tornadoes cannot go up and down the slope.

FAQs About Can Tornadoes Go Up Hills

tornado faqs

Do you have any other questions about can a tornado go up hills? The following are a few examples of additional questions that are often asked:

Tornadoes Spin Up or Down?

Tornadoes often revolve in the same direction as the thunderstorm with which they are related.”

As a result, if warm equatorial winds meet chilly upper-level winds from the west, the tornado will spiral counterclockwise.

Tornadoes Move in Which Direction?

Tornadoes may emerge from any angle. Most people go from southwest to northeast or west to east.

Some tornadoes have altered course or even reversed their route.

Final Verdict

Can tornadoes go up hills? Tornadoes cannot go up and down the slope.

This is due to several factors, including the fact that a tornado cannot go in the opposite direction of the hill and hence cannot circle in the same direction as the hill. 

When chilly upper-level winds from the west collide with warm equatorial winds, the tornado spirals counterclockwise only in the plateau region, where mountains restrict tornado formation. 

Thanks for reading!