It’s perfectly normal never to have seen a tornado up close and personal. Our only visual exposure to the phenomenon is via videos and their portrayal in films. We have seen how they are funnel-shaped, huge bodies of air moving around. Have you wondered how big they are? Are they big enough to go over mountains or hills?

Tornadoes can go over mountains if they are formed in the mountains. Tornadoes are known to skip valleys and move over mountains. On the other hand, tornadoes formed on land have a tendency to move uphill. Due to the environment in the mountains, the tornadoes get weaker as they get closer to the mountains, and hence, tornadoes do not have the ability to go up mountains. 

In this article, we will answer all your curious questions. Continue reading to find out more about tornadoes and hills. 

Do Tornadoes Travel Uphill?

Tornadoes do not always travel in a straight line. They can travel in any direction and can even travel uphill. Tornadoes are caused by a combination of low pressure, warm air, and moisture and are usually found in areas near the equator where these conditions are more likely to occur. Tornadoes can move uphill; however, newer research has revealed that tornadoes prefer moving uphill rather than downhill. 

Can Tornadoes Go Up Or Over Mountains?

Tornadoes that move uphill from land cannot completely go up mountains. Tornadoes need warm, humid air to form, and mountains disrupt the flow of air, making it difficult for the conditions necessary for tornadoes to form. As they move up toward mountains, they tend to get weaker. 

However, tornadoes that are formed in the mountains can go over mountains. Studies on tornado trends and behavior revealed that tornadoes skip from hill to hill, not causing any damage to the valleys between the mountains. The most damage was noticed on the top of the hills. 

How Much Damage Do Tornadoes Cause On Mountains Or Hills?

Tornadoes can cause damage to mountains or hills, but the amount of destruction depends on the tornado’s strength and the type of terrain. Winds from a strong tornado may be strong enough to uproot trees, damage buildings, and create landslides. Tornadoes can also cause flash flooding, rock slides, and mudslides. 

Tornadoes in the mountains are not as strong as the ones that occur in areas with flat terrain. This is because the mountains do not provide the adequate components essential to the tornado’s maintenance and strength. 

What Are The Chances Of A Tornado Hitting A Mountain?

The chances of a tornado hitting a mountain are low since tornadoes occur in flat, open areas with warm, moist air. Mountainous terrain can disrupt the development of tornadoes since there is usually a lack of moisture and instability in the air. 

The frequency of tornadoes hitting mountains is reported to be lower than that of tornadoes in flat terrains. Some areas where tornadoes have been reported in mountainous landscapes are listed below:

  • The Great Plains
  • The Appalachian Mountains
  • The Rocky Mountains
  • The Mississippi Valley

America is notorious for the number of tornadoes it experiences due to its geographical location and environment. 

Myths About Tornadoes

A common myth floating around is that tornadoes avoid mountains and can never cause destruction in the mountains. This myth is wrong, and we have proven it. Let us look at more myths about tornadoes that need to be busted. 

  • Tornadoes target trailer homes.
  • Large and crowded cities are safe from tornadoes.
  • Tornadoes always travel in one direction.
  • Tornadoes are always clearly visible.
  • Tornadoes only occur in tornado season.

All of the above myths are detrimental to the safety of people. Believing in such information puts them at risk by being unprepared for the calamity that is to come. Refer to your authorities for authentic details and heed their warning and instructions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We have found the answers to some frequently asked questions which are related to the topic of tornadoes moving up or over hills.

Do Tornadoes Form Over Mountains?

No, tornadoes generally do not form over mountains. Tornadoes often form in low-pressure areas over open spaces, such as plains, where warm and cold air can easily mix. Mountain ranges typically disrupt the flow of air currents, making it difficult for a tornado to form.

Do Mountains Stop Tornadoes?

No, mountains do not stop tornadoes. Tornadoes can form in any area where the atmospheric conditions are right for thunderstorms, regardless of the terrain. In fact, tornadoes can develop in some of the most mountainous regions of the world. 

However, mountainous landscapes have the ability to disrupt the formation of a tornado. 

How High Are Tornadoes?

Tornadoes can reach heights of up to 10 miles or more above the ground and move at a speed of 30 miles per hour. 

How High Has A Tornado Ever Reached?

The highest altitude ever recorded for a tornado was 12,000 feet above sea level. This occurred on June 23, 2010, in El Reno, Oklahoma.

What To Do In A Tornado?

If a tornado has already hit, you must pack yourself an emergency kit and immediately seek shelter in a safe place. This can be the basement or under a sturdy surface. Try to stay away from windows and doors. 

Can Tornadoes Go Over Lakes?

Yes, they can do that. Tornadoes, like rivers, can go over any water body, no matter how big. Moreover, tornadoes also form within water bodies and either move inwards to the water body or outwards towards the land. 

Do Tornadoes Jump?

Yes, they can. The phenomenon is known as a skipping tornado. This is when tornadoes have a discontinuous path. They may cause damage in some areas of the track and might leave some areas completely untouched. 

Final Thoughts

People living in valleys are often safer due to the special properties of tornadoes to go over mountains. Moreover, people in valleys are also safer because tornadoes get weaker near the hills.