News

VIDEO: A spin-up tornado hit Livonia on Wednesday. Here's what it is

Posted at 1:35 PM, Jun 06, 2024

A spin-up tornado, also known as a non-supercell tornado, forms differently from the commonly known supercell tornado. Here’s a detailed overview:

Hear Meteorologist Mike Taylor describe what they are in the video below

WXYZ meteorologist Mike Taylor explains that Livonia tornado was a 'non-supercell tornado'

How they work

These tornadoes are relatively weak and short-lived without a pre-existing rotating updraft (mesocyclone) typically found in supercell thunderstorms. They usually develop along boundaries such as cold fronts, sea breezes, or outflow boundaries where air masses converge and create horizontal rotation. This rotation can be tilted into the vertical by an updraft, leading to the formation of a tornado.

Reminder: You can download the WXYZ app and we will send weather alerts straight to your phone. Download the app here

Michigan is unique because we have lake breezes on a regular basis, which can also interact with storms leading to the development of these types of tornadoes.

Characteristics

Size and Duration: They're generally smaller with shorter lifespans compared to supercell tornadoes.

Intensity: They tend to be weaker, often rated EF-0 to EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, though stronger spin-up tornadoes are possible.

Detection: Due to their small size and short duration, they can be harder to detect with radar compared to supercell tornadoes. They might not show up on radar until they are already on the ground, and by the time the warning is issued...they're already gone.

These stats line up with the tornado that hit Livonia.

Tornado Survey Two - Mike.png
Tornado Survey

Safety and Preparedness

Due to their unpredictable nature, it’s important to stay informed about weather conditions, especially during severe weather where spin-up tornadoes are more possible.
If a storm is over you on a day where severe weather is possible seek shelter immediately in a sturdy building, preferably in a basement or an interior room away from windows until the storm passes to be safe.