Bandung, West Java (ANTARA) - The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that the storm that struck some parts of Bandung and Sumedang districts, West Java, on Wednesday (February 21, 2024) cannot be classified as a tornado.

Head of the BMKG's Bandung Geophysics Station, Teguh Rahayu, said that the phenomenon should instead be classified as a whirlwind, locally known as "puting beliung," because one criterion of a tornado is a wind speed of above 70 kilometers per hour.

"Meanwhile, the wind speed detected at Jatinangor automatic weather station during the February 21 incident was only 36.8 kilometers per hour," the station head informed here on Thursday.

She said that a whirlwind is formed from cumulonimbus clouds, which can cause extreme weather.

"The phenomenon of a waterspout above open waters can be detected by a radar, while a whirlwind is detected by the development of a cumulonimbus cloud," she explained.

She said that a whirlwind can emerge suddenly and recede in less than 10 minutes. However, she added, not all cumulonimbus clouds cause whirlwinds.

"The cumulonimbus cloud certainly will cause rain, and one of the effects of the extreme weather is the emergence of a whirlwind," she explained.

Meanwhile, a tornado has a greater intensity and wind speed that can reach hundreds of kilometers per hour with a radius that can reach kilometres, Rahayu said.

"A tornado may cause damage in a 10-kilometer radius, while the February 21 incident caused damage only in a 3- to 5-kilometer radius," she informed.

The station head also urged residents and authorities not to use sensational terms that could stir public concern while referring to the February 21 whirlwind and instead suggested the use of a more familiar term.

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Translator: Rubby Jovan, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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