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Clash of cold air with warm front created right conditions for storm

The summertime air over the Northeast is typically not as turbulent as in the Midwest, which is why New England sees few tornadoes. But Monday was different.

Cold air at high altitudes coupled with a warm front moving through the region created unsettled conditions that may have spawned the tornado that ripped through Revere Monday morning, said Benjamin Sipprell, a National Weather Service meteorologist. It was Suffolk County’s first confirmed report of a tornado in more than 60 years.

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Hot air rises and, mixed with the heavier cold air above, creates turbulence in the atmosphere. At the same time, a thunderstorm passing over Revere produced strong wind shear — a sudden change in wind direction over a short distance — which can cause tornadoes to develop, Sipprell said.

Storms that have ravaged much of the Eastern United States also could have merged and helped to generate the tornado, he added.

Sipprell said much remains unknown about what caused the tornado, noting that meteorologists are still perplexed by how various types of tornadoes form.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be entirely sure why this tornado formed the way it did and where it did,” Sipprell said.

Yasmeen Abutaleb is at yasmeen.abutaleb@globe.com.
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