New Jersey experiences rare ‘landspout’ tornado

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New Jersey is not typically known for its tornadic activity, but the state has seen several tornado warnings and tornadoes touching down over the past few weeks.

This weekend the Garden State saw a different type of tornado – a less-common weather phenomenon known as a landspout tornado.

“The difference between tornadoes and landspout tornadoes is that landspout tornadoes don't form from rotating thunderstorms,” says National Weather Service meteorologist Trent Davis. “Those are what generally form regular tornadoes, but landspout tornadoes tend to form from pre-existing rotation in the lower atmosphere.”

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A typical tornado forms when horizontally rotating air sags down from the clouds. Once the rotating air reaches the ground it becomes a tornado. In the case of a landspout tornado, the rotating air is already on the ground and the tornado actually grows up towards the cloud.

Meteorologists say that sometimes these type of tornadoes never even reach the clouds. They are generally weaker than cloud-based tornadoes but still can cause serious damage.

“Landspout tornadoes are indeed tornadoes, but not all tornadoes are landspouts,” Davis says.

This weekend’s landspout tornado was registered as a relatively weak EF-0. The winds were strong enough to overturn a car.

Forecasters say that there is a good chance that New Jersey will see more tornadoes this season.

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