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Hurricane vs.

Tornado
Hurricanes and tornadoes are both stormy atmospheric systems that
have the potential of causing destruction. They are caused due to
instability in atmospheric conditions. According to the region and
severity of stormy conditions, these storms may be referred to as
typhoons or tropical cyclones.

Comparison chart
Differences Similarities </> Embed this chart

Hurricane

Tornado

A hurricane is a cyclone that is located


in the North Atlantic Ocean, or the NE
Pacific Ocean east of the International
About
Date Line, or the South Pacific Ocean
east of 160E, and with sustained winds
that reach or exceed 74 mph.

A tornado is a rotating column of air


ranging in width from a few yards to more
than a mile and whirling at destructively
high speeds, usually accompanied by a
funnel-shaped downward extension of a
cumulonimbus cloud. Winds 40-300+ mph.

Clockwise in the southern hemisphere


Rotation and counterclockwise in the northern
hemisphere

Clockwise in the southern hemisphere and


counterclockwise in the northern
hemisphere

Hurricanes are classified into five


categories according to the SaffirSimpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The
Intensity
wind speed and intensity of damage
increases as from category 1 to
category 5.

The scale used for rating the strength of


tornadoes is called the Fujita (F), Enhanced
Fujita (EF), and TORRO (T) Scale.

North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast


Pacific Ocean east of the International
Location
Date Line, or the South Pacific Ocean
east of 160E. Hurricanes are found near
the tropical zone, over warm waters in

Tornados have been spotted in all


continents except Antarctica.

Hurricane

Tornado

the Atlantic and Pacific ocean.


Caribbean Sea

In areas where a convergence of cold and


warm fronts is common. i.e. US Midwest.

10-15 per year

The United States records about 1200


tornadoes per year, whereas the
Netherlands records the highest number of
tornadoes per area compared to other
countries. Tornadoes occur commonly in
spring and the fall season and are less
common in winters

Heavy winds, floods, storm surge, a lot


of rain, tornadoes

Very strong cyclonic winds, very heavy rain,


large hail, strong cloud to ground lightning.

Usually warm areas

Places where cold and warm fronts


converge. Can be just almost anywhere.

Several; could be dozens

One

Forms of
precipitation

Rain

Rain, sleet, and hail

Temperature
gradient
required

Small; near zero

Large

In days

In minutes

Diameter of hundreds of kilometers

Diameter of hundreds of meters

Days to weeks. The exact area of which


the hurricane will hit is known within
days, but the storm system will last for

Minutes to hours. The conditions for the


possibility of a tornado can be predicted
hours before an event, however, tornadoes

Most affected
areas

Frequency

Characteristics

Occurrence

Number of
convective
storms

Life span
Size

Amount of
warning

Shape

Hurricane

Tornado

significantly longer than that, with


changes in its path frequent.

rarely leave much more than a couple


minutes warning. And sometimes none.

Symmetrical with often clearly defined


center.

Cone shape.

Contents: Hurricane vs Tornado

1 Definitions of Hurricanes and Tornados

8 Size

2 Geographical location
3 Characteristics and types

9 Intensity and Damage


10 Frequency

4 Vertical Shear

11 Detection

5 Temperature Gradient

12 Recent News

6 Rotation
7 Life span

13 Hurricane News
14 References

Hurricane Andrew - satellite image

Definitions of Hurricanes and Tornados


A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone with sustained winds that exceed 74
mph and accompanied by rain, thunder and lightning.
A tornado is defined in the dictionary as "a rotating column of air ranging in
width from a few yards to more than a mile and whirling at destructively high
speeds, usually accompanied by a funnel-shaped downward extension of a
cumulonimbus cloud". The wind speeds of tornados range from 40 mph to 110

mph, span about 75 m across and can travel a few miles. In extreme cases,
tornados have also reached a speed of 300 mph.

Geographical location
Hurricanes are found near the tropical zone, over warm waters in the
Atlantic and Pacific ocean. Tornados have been spotted in all continents
except Antarctica though a large number have been seen in the United States.

Characteristics and types

The 1973 Union City, Oklahoma tornado in its early stages of formation.

Hurricanes develop over ocean water warmer than 26.5 Celsius and heat
and moisture from the ocean forms the basis of this type of storm. Thus,
hurricanes weaken rapidly over land and over cold waters, which cannot
provide enough heat or moisture to sustain this storm. The low pressure
centres of hurricanes are known as the "eye" and are warmer than their
surrounding areas. The eye is surrounded by strong winds and rain and this
area is called the "eye wall". Hurricanes have no fronts. The hurricane season
peaks from the middle of August to late October in the Atlantic Ocean.
There are many shapes and sizes of tornadoes. Tornadoes look like big funnels
low in height with a cylindrical profile are referred to as stovepipe tornados,
whereas those that are like large wedges stuck to the ground are
called wedges. Tornadoes can also be a small swirl of dust close to the ground
and not easily identifiable. Similarly tornadoes can assume twisted and rope-

like shape that narrow and extends from the clouds down in a long and narrow
tube like fashion; these are referred to as "rope tornado". Tornadoes with
more than one vortex can swirl around one common centre and appear as a
single funnel. The types of tornadoes include multiple vortex, waterspout,
gustnado, dare devil, fire whirls and steam devils.
The color of the tornadoes varies according to the region they occur in and
depends on the color of the soil and debris collected. For instance, tornadoes
with little debris appear gray or white, tornadoes in the Great Plain have a
reddish hue because if the color of the soil, and tornadoes that occur in the
mountainous snow-covered region turn white.

Vertical Shear
Tornadoes require substantial vertical shear of the horizontal winds (i.e.
change of wind speed and/or direction with height); tropical cyclones
(including hurricanes) require very low values (less than 10 m/s [20 kt, 23
mph]) of tropospheric vertical shear in order to form and grow.

Temperature Gradient
Tornadoes are produced in regions of large temperature gradient, while
tropical cyclones are generated in regions of near zero horizontal temperature
gradient. Therefore tornadoes typically occur over land (where the sun's heat
can produce the required temperature gradient) while tropical cyclones are an
oceanic phenomenon. Hurricanes lose momentum after land fall because the
required moisture is not available on land.

Rotation
Hurricanes and Tornadoes turn clockwise in the Southern hemisphere and
counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere.

Hurricane Isaac as seen from a NASA satellite on August 28, 2012.

Life span
The lifespan of a tropical cyclone (hurricane) is in days while a tornado lasts
only a few minutes.

Size
The diameter of a tornado is hundreds of meters. It is powered by one
convective storm. On the other hand hurricanes span hundreds
ofkilometers and comprise several convective storms.

Intensity and Damage


Hurricanes are classified into five categories according to the Saffir-Simpson
scale. The wind speed and intensity of damage increases as from Category 1 to
category 5. Category 1 hurricanes cause minimal damage with wind speeds of
74-95 miles per hour (mph), category 2 cause moderate damage with wind
speeds varying from 96-110 mph, category 3 cause extensive damage, with
wind speeds of 111-130 mph, category 4 causes extreme damage with wind
speeds of 131-155 mph, and category 5 has catastrophic damage with wind
speeds of over 155 mph.
The intensity of tornadoes can also vary in intensity those with a longer
track being stronger. The scale used for rating the strength of tornadoes is
called the Fujita (F), Enhanced Fujita (EF), and TORRO (T) Scale. The range
varies from F0, EF0 or T0 for minimal damage (damages trees but not

buildings) up to F5, EF5 or T11 for vast degree of damage (buildings and
skyscrapers end up getting damaged).In the United States, maximum
tornadoes (80%) fall into the EF0 and EF1 (T0 to T3) category and less than
1% are violent (EF4, T8 or more).

Frequency
In the Atlantic ocean, hurricanes occur about five or six times a year. The
Caribbean is a focal area for many hurricanes. A series of low pressure systems
develop off the West coast of Africa and make their way across the Atlantic
Ocean. While most of these systems do not become tropical storms, some do.
The Caribbean hurricane season is from June through November, with the
majority of hurricanes occurring during August and September. On average
around 9 tropical storms form each year, with 5 reaching hurricane strength.
According to the National Hurricane Center 385 hurricanes occurred in the
Caribbean between 1494 and 1900.[1]
The United States records about 1,200 tornadoes per year, whereas the
Netherlands records the highest number of tornadoes per area compared to
other countries. Other countries that have frequent occurrence of tornadoes
include South Africa, Paraguay, parts of Argentina, and parts of Europe,
Australia and New Zealand. Tornadoes occur commonly in spring and the fall
season and are less common in winters.

Detection
Hurricanes and tornadoes are detected by Pulse-Doppler radar,
photogrametry, and ground swirl patterns.

Recent News
Hurricane News
References

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - The difference between a tropical


cyclone and tornado

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_cyclone#Hurricane_or_typhoon

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/naturaldisasters/hurricane-profile/

http://library.thinkquest.org/5818/hurricanes.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado

Hurricane Tracker - Wall Street Journal

All hurricane names since 1950


http://www.diffen.com/difference/Hurricane_vs_Tornado}
April 30, 2012

WHAT CAUSES TORNADOES AND HURRICANES?


METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
A tornado is rapidly spinning air that develops from a thunderstorms and is
on the ground. The ingredients for a tornado are a thunderstorm, winds
changing speeds with height and rapidly rising air. When you watch a
thunderstorm develop you will notice that the clouds build upward. This
rising air is what causes all the rain and hail to form from the water in the
air. The addition of changing wind speed and direction with height causes
the rising air to spin. Think about spinning a top. You spin your fingers in
opposite directions to get the top to spin. This is the same as wind coming
from different directions. Most thunderstorms do not produce tornadoes
because the spin is not balanced with the air rising from the surface. When
the balance is just right though between the rising air coming into a
thunderstorm and the winds changing with height then a tornado can form.
Tornadoes can be weak or strong and last a few seconds up to many
minutes.
A hurricane is a huge organized thunderstorm complex that develops over
the ocean. The ingredients are warm ocean water, weak upper level winds,
and low pressure. The warm ocean water supplies the moisture for the
hurricane. The weak upper levels winds allow the developing hurricane to
not tear apart, and the low pressure allows thunderstorms to develop. As the
thunderstorms develop they will be influenced over many hours and days by
the earth's rotation. This is what allows the thunderstorms to start
developing into an organized circulation where they rotate around a central
point, called the eye. If the circulation stays over warm water and the upper
level winds stay weak then the hurricane's winds will continue to get
stronger. The hurricane will weaken if it comes on land, moves over water
that is too cold to sustain it, or if the upper level winds get strong enough to
start breaking the circulation apart.
http://www.theweatherprediction.com/kid_weather_questions/tornadoes_hurricanes.html

Tornadoes
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the bottom of a cumuliform cloud, such as
a thunderstorm, to the ground. Tornadoes are often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud. It is important
to never confuse a tornado with a hurricane or other tropical cyclone because tornadoes and hurricanes
are very different phenomena. Perhaps the only similarity between tornadoes and hurricanes is that they both
contain strong rotating winds that can cause damage.
There are many differences between tornadoes and hurricanes. The largest tornado every observed was 4 km
(2.5 mi) wide, and most tornadoes are < 0.8 km (0.5 mi) wide. The parent storm clouds that produce tornadoes
are generally about 16 km (10 mi) wide. Hurricanes, however, are typically much larger, ranging from about
160 km (100) mi to 1600 km (1000 mi) wide (see Hurricane Structure and Primary Circulation). A tornados
lifetime is short, ranging from a few seconds to a few hours. By contrast, a hurricanes lifecycle can last from
days to weeks. Tornadoes, and the parent storm clouds that produce them, require strong vertical wind shear
and strong horizontal temperature changes to form and survive; hurricanes thrive in regions of weak vertical
wind shear where the horizontal change in atmospheric temperature is small (see Hurricane Genesis: Birth of
Hurricane). Also, strong tornadoes usually occur over land, while hurricanes almost always form over the
ocean. Finally, the strongest tornadoes can have wind speeds over 483 kph (300 mph), but even the strongest
hurricanes rarely produce wind speeds over 322 kph (200 mph).

Individual storm clouds within hurricanes may spawn tornadoes as a hurricane makes landfall, with tornado
production continuing, in some instances, for several days after landfall. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in

a particular quadrant of a hurricane. Some research suggests that the preferred quadrant is the right-front
quadrant relative to a hurricanes direction of propagation, but other research suggests that the northeast
quadrant is preferred for tornado production regardless of the hurricanes propagation direction. Regardless,
tornadoes typically form in the part of a hurricane where the vertical wind shear is largest. If a hurricane
interacts with a front or it ingests air that is unstable, tornado production will become more favorable in those
regions of the hurricane. Tornadoes typically form in the spiral rainbands of a hurricane, but tornadoes have
also been observed in the eyewall. Some hurricanes may produce no tornadoes, while others develop several.
In general, tornadoes associated with hurricanes are relatively weak and short lived, especially in comparison
to those that occur over the Great Plains of the United States. Nonetheless, the effects of tornadoes, added to
the effects of hurricane-force winds, can produce substantial damage.

http://www.hurricanescience.org/society/impacts/tornadoes/