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Science with Sabrina: Touchable tornado

A local kids museum has a fun and interactive way to learn about nature and weather. Meteorologist Sabrina Bates took a field trip and teaches us about tornadoes.

We're taking a road trip on this week's science lesson. I'm actually headed inside the Scott Family Amazeum. We're going to take a look at all of the different science things, but my favorite is the touchable tornado.

As you walk through, there's science all around you and so much exploration to do! We visited the Nature and Weather Center which has many ways to teach us about how our earth works.  

And, like I said, my favorite part, is the touchable tornado! 

When you look at this tornado from far away, it's a funnel that forms, dissipates, then reforms. But, I took a closer look. 

Water vapor is released from the bottom. There's a fan at the top that pulls in any air from below. The strong enough pull upward, or an updraft, causes the water vapor to start to form a funnel. The water vapor fills in the gap of the rotating air from the bottom to the top. 

Here's a little more science on how a tornado develops

Strong winds at the surface and aloft in our atmosphere form a horizontal rotating column of air. A strong updraft in a thunderstorm will cause that rotating column to become vertical. This could eventually form a wall cloud, a funnel, or even a tornado if it reaches the ground. 

A disruption in the atmosphere can change this. And, we saw a similar change with the "touchable tornado" when I moved my hands through it.