Mini-Tornado Myth

If there is one thing that really frustrates storm chasers, it is the constant use of the term ‘mini-tornado’ by the media. To put it in simple terms… THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MINI TORNADO! Either it is a tornado or it is not. A willy-willy (or cock-eyed bob, dust devil, sand auger – depends where you come from) is not a tornado. A waterspout is not a tornado.

See related articles: Waterspouts, Willy-Willy’s

Recent events on the east coast of Australia have brought this issue into the spotlight again. See here.

So, in response to all this who-ha, I though I would share with you a very clever and funny post that I think sums it up brilliantly.  US based storm chaser, Bob Hartig, posted this on his page and it is shared here with his permission. The following is an extract from his page…

A true mini-tornado must meet the following standards:

• It is five feet tall or less. Of course, this implies an extremely low cloud base. You’d have to squat in order to get a decent photo.
• Width: Two feet or less.
• Human response: You feel a strong urge to say, “Awww, ain’t that cute!” You want to pet it and maybe even take it home with you and give it a nice bowl of debris.
• The synoptic conditions can be contained within five city blocks.
• Overshooting tops can be viewed from above by taking an elevator to the ninth floor.
• Damage (introducing the M Scale):

M0: Damage?
M1: No noticeable damage.
M2: No, there’s no stinking damage. Now go away.
M3: Okay, some damage now. Card houses knocked over unless securely glued together. Hair ruffled. That sort of thing.
M4: Now we’re talking damage. Well-built card houses scattered into a lawn-size version of 52-Card Pickup. Ill-fitting toupes snatched away. Nasty things happen when you spit into the wind.
M5: Inconceivable inconvenience. Securely glued card houses swept entirely away and lofted across the lawn. Well-gelled hair twisted into impressive new designs. You want to get out of the way of this baby.

Source: http://stormhorn.com/2012/12/18/mini-tornadoes-defining-a-microscale-mystery

So, there you go… Well said Bob.

By the way.. this is actually what a mini-tornado really looks like…

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