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Difference Between Hurricane and Tornado

hurricaneHurricane vs Tornado

Basically, a hurricane is a heavy storm characterized by strong winds and rains. A hurricane originates from the ocean, and gathers strength as it glides across the water. Most of the damage that a hurricane causes is a result of a tidal surge, although the strong winds contribute to the devastation. By contrast, a tornado forms on land, without any prior warnings, and is usually characterized by powerful winds that move in a circular motion while forming a funnel shape. As this happens, it picks up and carries a lot of objects, while raising dust. Destruction results from the high velocity winds which can shatter an entire neighborhood in a matter of minutes.

A tornado forms ahead of a front, when some storm clouds gain strength and form ‘supercells’; and when the high pressure wind and low pressure winds collide, winds will circulate around each other. A tornado will be visible on radar when the air formed is of at least a measurable circulation. Tornadoes form rapidly, and touch the ground briefly before they spin back to the supercell. At times, they remain on the ground and generate winds of 250 mph, covering a large swath of land.
Hurricanes form as systems within themselves. The whole system originates from a low pressure system normally situated in the tropics. Cloud formation is fueled by the heated ocean water. Bands of rain clouds then begin to slowly form around the centre of the low pressure. The prevailing winds and the jet stream push the hurricane further into the ocean. It potentially starts as a ‘wave’, then forms a ‘depression’, which turns into a ‘storm’ when winds maintain speeds between 39 and 74 mph. By this time, a name would already have been assigned to it by the national meteorologists, based on an alphabetical progression. The storm will officially become a hurricane when the sustained wind speeds are at 75 mph. Hurricane formation, unlike a tornado, can be detected earlier, and progressively measured throughout its life span.

One notable difference in formation, is that hurricanes follow some loosely defined course, meaning that safety warnings are possible for any living in such a path. Tornadoes however, form within minutes, and safety warnings may only be issued after it has formed.

Generally, tornadoes generate more powerful winds than hurricanes, but they will last for a shorter time. The actual path that the funnel cloud took, is where most damage from an average tornado will be caused. For hurricanes, most of the damage is caused by the floods that proceed the high winds and heavy rains. Hurricanes also form storm surges, which result from ocean water building up high waves, but tornadoes do not form surges.

Tornadoes form over land, and do not form storm surges, while hurricanes form over oceans and form storm surges.
Hurricanes cause damage from the resulting floods from the surge, while tornadoes cause damage by their powerful wind funnel.
Tornadoes generate stronger winds which last for shorter time periods, while hurricanes last longer.
Tornadoes form within a short time, and safety warnings are harder to get out in time, while hurricanes follow a loosely defined course, giving time for safety warnings.

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  1. Thanks, this helped me a lot on one of my papers for mid-term. But, one of my questions is still not answered: Which is more effective, Tornado or a tsnuami?

    • A tsunami has nothing to do with a tornado. Tornadoes are weather phenomena. Tsunamis are caused by a high magnitude earthquake within a certain mileage to landfall.

    • After the Tsunami the water of the ocean recedes from the shore to be affected. The water can recede many miles and will then surge forward at great speeds leaving devastation in its place.

  2. I think that this article is amazing because it helped me with my science homework. My science homework is very hard because all of the school year we are going to know everything about catstrphoic events. Now i have some questions.
    1. How are you?
    2.Are you as smart as me?
    3. How long does it take you to text on a cordy board, when all the letters are put together, and a keyboard like the one one from the computer but just the letters on the front?
    4. Do you have a cellphone?
    5. How much do you like science or catastophic events or chemistry or the human body anything that has a scienctific topic which one do you like the best on a scale of 1 to 10?
    Here are my answers. Please answer yours in the comments below mine.
    1. I am good
    2. i am very smart brave confident and nice
    3. the one with the letters on the front like a computer keyboard
    4. i do have a cellphone
    5. i like catstophic events because you can be a meterologist, a volcanogist, even a seismologist or a geogologist. on a scale of 1 to 10 i would pick an eleven on catstophic events because you will know what is going to happen from el nino.

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