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托福听力短文 II-12-3

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(WA) The winds of a tornado are the most violent and destructive ones on Earth. Any of you who have seen one knows very well how frightening and powerful they are. What's interesting about them is that scientists don't actually know exactly why tornadoes occur.

We do know, however, what happens when tornadoes are formed. As you remember, a front occurs when cool, dry air from the north meets warm, humid air coming from the south (from the Gulf of Mexico, for tornadoes in the United States). Where these air masses meet, a narrow zone of storm clouds develops, and thunderstorms, and sometimes tornadoes, occur.

How is this violent weather produced? Well, a mass of warm, humid air rises very rapidly. As it rises, more warm air rushes in to replace it. This inrushing air also rises, and in some cases, especially when there is extreme thermal instability, begins to rotate. When this happens, the rotating air forms a tornado.

Even if you've seen tornadoes only in movies, you know that they can demolish buildings in seconds. This is possible because when a tornado passes over a house, it sucks up air from around the house and so the air pressure outside the house drops rapidly. Inside, pressure remains the same. So, air pressure inside is greater than air pressure outside. The result is that the building explodes outward. Next, we'll talk a little bit about how new technological developments are being used to try to predict tornadoes.

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