Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Eye of Tornado
Name: Alan P.
Status: student
Age: 10
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001


Question:
I am Liz P., Alan's science teacher. He had this question during a recent class discussion about storms. Alan would like to know why the eye of the tornado is still and quiet.


Replies:
Dear Liz/Alan-

The question about why the eye of the tornado is still and quiet, is a good one... That is a true statement in a theoretical sense. If the wind speed on one side of the tornado is at a measured velocity, say 100 mph, and on the exact other side of the tornado, the velocity is the same, except in the opposite direction, then at some point, at or near the center, the velocity would have to be zero.

In actuality, this does not occur, because the funnel of the tornado is constantly changing in size, wind velocity, and direction of movement, and to observe or measure the calm wind would be very difficult.

Hurricanes have similar circulations as tornadoes, except on a much larger scale. The eye of the hurricane can sometimes measure 10 to 20 miles in diameter, and wind speeds have been measured inside the eye of the hurricane, and they are very light, or nearly calm.

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO


Click here to return to the Weather Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory