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Differences between Hurricane and Tornado

Aarti R Sep 29, 2018
Hurricane and tornado are two major destructive powers of nature. They are usually considered to be the same calamities, but are actually different. Here are the clear differences between the two.
Although, a hurricane and a tornado have a lot in common, they are two different calamities. Size, shape, power, and speed are the important factors that differentiate the two. The time of the year and locations where they may occur are also different.
Hurricane is a tropical disturbance, and is formed on the ocean water in the warm tropical regions. The three initial stages that lead to its formation are: tropical depression, tropical storm, and then the fierce hurricane.
When the surface of water is warm enough, around 27 degree Celsius, a tropical depression is formed on the ocean due to a storm. As the speed of the depression exceeds 39 mph, it turns into a tropical storm, which further becomes a hurricane, if it reaches a speed of 75 mph.
A hurricane can be viewed as an engine that gets its energy from the moisture evaporated seawater and heat. It has a spiral wind pattern, and its center is called the 'eye of the hurricane'.
The diameter of the eye is around 10 - 20 miles. The center is calmer than the other regions of the spiral storm. Usually, it loses its power, as it approaches the coast. It brings in torrential rains and fierce winds, and coastal areas are mostly affected by it.
A hurricane is known by different names, according to the places where it occurs. It is called by the same name, if it takes place in the Atlantic Ocean and northeast Pacific Ocean. If it occurs in the Indian Ocean, it is known as a cyclone. Its strength is measured on the Saffir-Simpson scale from 1 to 5.
A tornado, commonly known as a twister, is usually formed on land, and is a fierce spiral funnel-shaped storm. It is formed when a cold air front meets a warm front, and clouds appear when the cold air tries to lift the warm air.
A funnel-like structure formed in the cloud or which appears to be hanging from the cloud is the eye of the tornado. This is very fierce and take away everything that comes in its way. Its speed is greater than 100 mph. A tornado is classified according to its intensity as weak, strong, or violent.
Weak tornado: It has a speed of less than 110 mph, and can last for 1 - 10min. 69% of the tornadoes are weak.
Strong tornado: This type is strong with a speed varying from 110 mph to 205 mph, and can last for about 20 min. 29% of tornadoes are strong.
Violent tornado: It occurs rarely, and only 2% of them are fiercely violent. This type has a speed greater than 200 mph, and can last for about an hour.
Central North America is where they occur frequently, and therefore, the area is called the 'tornado alley'. It is observed that it usually starts on agricultural fields. Change in climate is often witnessed in such areas, which is a favorable condition for an outset of a tornado. Europe and Southeast Asia also witness the formation of a tornado.
The hurricane, as well as the tornado are an outcome of thunderstorms, but have certain differences.
  • A hurricane is born on water; while a tornado is born on land.
  • The eye of a tornado is only a few feet in diameter, while the diameter of hurricane's eye extends to 10-20 miles.
  • The eye of a hurricane is less chaotic, and is calmer than the violent eye of a tornado.
  • The tornado lasts for few minutes, and a hurricane can last for about two-four weeks.
  • A tornado occurs from April to June, while a hurricane occurs in the months from June to November.
  • A hurricane is larger in size, and sometimes might produces a number of tornadoes.
  • The hurricane is long-lasting, but the tornado is more erratic and devastating in nature.
  • Hurricane travels from east to west, and a tornado travels from south-west to north-east.
There are many similarities in these frightening and devastating calamities. Both the hurricane and the tornado circulate in counter-clockwise direction. Even if there are specific seasons, in which they most frequently occur, isolated events have been witnessed. The destructive effects of both, like flash floods, mudslides, etc., are the same.