Commonly Asked Question; What’s the Difference Between a Tornado and a Landspout?

Commonly Asked Question; What’s the Difference Between a Tornado and a Landspout?

Landspouts and waterspouts have been making headlines over the past several years and we have been asked more so this year; What’s the Difference Between a Tornado and a Landspout?

Here is the simplest explanation!

Here’s the thing about landspouts and waterspouts: They are tornadoes. But there are a few qualities of a landspout that differentiate it from the twisters that are spawned by supercell thunderstorms.

A tornado is spawned from a parent thunderstorm with a rotating updraft, but a landspout isn’t. A landspout requires a towering cumulus cloud to be present over a boundary of converging winds near the surface.

As that cumulus cloud grows and passes over the boundary, the rotating air is stretched vertically and eventually grows into a landspout. If you’ve ever seen a waterspout develop, it’s very similar, except landspouts occur over land.

You’re most likely to see landspouts in the High Plains and especially in Colorado, but as we saw in Chicago not long ago, they’re certainly not limited to one region. Like waterspouts, you won’t see a lot of damage caused by most landspouts, although it’s not unheard of.

Meteorologists can often look at a photo or video of a landspout and immediately diagnose it as such.

Hope this helps!