What is the difference between a tornado and a hurricane?

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What is the difference between a tornado and a hurricane?

Tornado and hurricanes are sometimes used synonymously as they both have similar general structure. Both tornado and hurricane are characterized as they are extremely strong atmospheric systems which are swirling/ churning around the center along with horizontal winds and upward motion which are dictating the circulation. Both tornado and hurricane have the potential for causing destruction in the affected region. The major cause for their occurrence is unstable atmospheric conditions.

However, the difference between hurricane and tornado are –

• Hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or a typhoon which is found in the North Atlantic Ocean along with continuous flowing of winds that reaches to 74 mph or sometimes even higher. Tornado is a storm with twisting and funnel-shaped spiral air which ranges from few yards to a mile and the swirls of a tornado can cause destruction due to very high speeds, the speed of the winds ranges from 40 – 300 or more mph.

• Hurricanes are divided into 5 categories with reference to the intensity of damage caused by the stormy winds. Category 1 denotes less damage compared to category 5 which denotes the complete destruction due to the hurricane. The scale for a tornado is classified into Fujita, Enhanced Fujita, and TORRO scale.

• Hurricane is located in areas of North Atlantic Ocean, NE, and South Pacific ocean. Hurricanes are mostly found in the tropical area and in warm waters near the Pacific and Atlantic ocean. Whereas tornado is found on all continents except Antartica.

• Carribean Sea is the most affected area by the hurricane, whereas US Midwest where there is a conjunction of cold and warm fronts are the most commonly affected areas by a tornado.

• Hurricane occurs in around 10 to 15 years but a tornado has been recorded to about 1200 tornadoes in a year in the United States. These are more common during the spring and the fall season compared to the winters.

• The hurricanes are characterized by heavy winds, storms, floods, heavy rains, whereas a tornado is characterized by extremely strong winds which are cyclonic, heavy rainfall and strong lightning from cloud to ground.

• Rain is the only form of precipitation for a hurricane. The different forms of precipitation for tornadoes are rain, hail, and sleet.

• The size of the diameter of the hurricane ranges from hundreds of kilometers and for tornado diameter ranges from hundreds of meters.

• The area where a hurricane will appear is given a warning within days of the occurrence and for a tornado, the conditions could be predicted hours before the event.

• The shape of the hurricane is symmetrical with the center which is clearly defined. The tornado is of cone-shaped that appears like a funnel.

• Hurricanes are the large-scale circulations compared to the tornadoes which are small scale circulations.

• Hurricanes occur in warm areas. A tornado can occur in places where there are cold and warm weathers together, thus can be found or located almost anywhere.

• There could be several hurricanes sometimes in dozens. Only a single tornado can appear at a time.

• The hurricane requires a small gradient of temperature, almost nearly zero, whereas tornado requires a large temperature gradient.

• The life span of a hurricane is in days compared to tornadoes life span which lasts for few minutes.

• Hurricanes and tornadoes, both are detected by the same instruments Pulse-Doppler radar, swirl patterns in the ground and photogrammetry.

Posted by: neharlohia Posts: (34) Opinions: (354) Points: 5,773 Rank: 19

Yes, they are similar in structures and are synonymous to each other.

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