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  • Context (DTE): On March 31, 2024, a devastating tornado struck the Mainaguri area of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal.
  • The tornado lasted for about 10 minutes, resulting in five fatalities and over a hundred injuries.

Tornado Activity in India

  • Tornadoes are rare in India but are mostly reported in eastern states like West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand during the pre-monsoon period. However, evidence suggests that tornadoes have also formed in northwest India.
    • A research paper by scientists from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in 2016 documented various tornado records in eastern India.
    • The paper reported the highest number of tornadoes in Bengal, with significant fatalities.
    • Tornado activity was also recorded in northwest India, indicating a potential increase in frequency in later years.
  • India has witnessed a rise in tornado occurrences in recent years, leading to significant destruction.
  • Factors such as the warming Bay of Bengal and anomalous wind patterns are believed to contribute to the formation of tornadoes.

How are Tornadoes formed?

A diagram of a tornado Description automatically generated

Understanding Tornadoes

  • A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground.
  • Tornadoes can have wind speeds ranging from 105 to 322 kilometres per hour.
  • Cyclonic circulations and troughs are contributing factors to tornado formation.
  • Tornadoes can be either stationary or move at speeds of around 97 km/h.
  • Tornadoes are most common in countries like the United States, Argentina, and Bangladesh.


  • In the US, tornadoes are monitored by meteorologists at NWS using satellite and radar data.
  • India lacks official tornado monitoring, although IMD mentioned the recent West Bengal tornado in a press release.

Air Mass

  • In meteorology, air masses are large bodies of air characterised by nearly uniform temperatures and humidity at a given altitude.


  • Air masses have distinct boundaries and can extend horizontally for hundreds or thousands of kilometres.
  • They may also reach heights as high as the top of the troposphere, approximately 10–18 km (6–11 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
  • It brings constant weather conditions.


  • Air masses form when the atmosphere remains in contact with a large, relatively uniform land or sea surface for a sufficiently long period, allowing it to acquire the surface’s temperature and moisture properties.
  • Source regions for air masses are the high-pressure belts in the subtropics (resulting in tropical air masses) and around the poles (producing polar air masses).
  • Regions with high pressure and minimal pressure difference or gradient are considered ideal source regions.
  • Mid-latitudes lack major source regions due to dominance by cyclonic and other disturbances.

Classification of Air Mass

  • Continental Air Mass: Originating from a homogeneous continental surface.
  • Maritime Air Mass: Originating from a homogeneous oceanic surface.

Troughs and Ridges

tan trough ridges map with two axis

  • A trough is an elongated area of relatively low pressure extending from the centre of a region of low pressure. A trough is roughly U-shaped.
  • To the east of the trough, air usually rises, allowing precipitation to develop.
  • A ridge, on the other hand, looks like an upside-down U.
  • Fairweather is usually associated with ridges.
  • Air under a ridge sinks, which is not conducive to the development of clouds.
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