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Do South of the Equator Toilets Flush and Tornadoes Spin in the Opposite Direction?

Image: NOAA

June 28, 2007
Weather isn't always predictable. If it were, daily forecasts would be spot-on, hurricanes anticipated, and picnics safe from abrupt summer downpours. Instead, climate systems are complex, and tornadoes are no exception. So, whereas guessing the direction of a tornado's torque is possible, like any weather prediction the forecast will only be correct most of the time.It's true that tornadoes tend to revolve counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. However, according to research meteorologist Richard Rotunno of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., the opposite has also occurred. There has even been the occasional appearance of both counterclockwise and clockwise rotating tornadoes under the same thunderstorm. These deviations undercut the common misperception that the direction of a tornadoes' spin results from the Coriolis force.

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