Difference between Funnel Cloud and Tornado

 

Key Difference: A funnel cloud is a cone-shaped cloud composed of condensed water droplets that rotates with a column of wind and extends from a base of the cloud. However, these funnel clouds are very weak and rotate under 40 miles per hour. A tornado is a violent rotating column of air that is contact with both the ground as well as a cumulonimbus cloud.

 

Over the past few years, the number of natural calamities such as tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, has increased. With this sudden increase in calamities, people should be aware of the different types of natural disasters that can happen. In this article, we will see the differences and similarities between a tornado and a funnel cloud.

 

 

A funnel cloud is closely related to a tornado as most tornadoes are formed from a funnel cloud. A funnel cloud is a cone-shaped cloud composed of condensed water droplets that rotates with a column of wind and extends from a base of the cloud. However, these funnel clouds are very weak and rotate under 40 miles per hour. A funnel cloud does not touch the ground and remains in the air. If a funnel cloud touches the ground, it is considered as a tornado. Most funnel clouds do not touch the ground and dissipate in the air; similarly few tornadoes do not need a funnel cloud to form into a tornado.

 

A tornado is a violent rotating column of air that is contact with both the ground as well as a cumulonimbus cloud. It is also known as twisters or cyclones. The base of a tornado that touches the earth is usually surrounded by a cloud of dust and debris. A tornado depending on its size can have wind speeds between 40 miles per hour and 360 miles per hour. There are three different types of tornadoes: landspout, waterspout and multiple vortex. Landspout tornadoes are those that occur on land, while waterspout tornadoes occur on water. A multiple vortex tornado contains multiple vortices spinning inside the main vortex. Tornadoes are detected using Pulse-Doppler radars and their strength is determined using either the Enhanced Fujita Scale or the TORRO scale.

 

Further differences such as types, speed and the noises they make can be seen in the table below:

 

 

Tornado

Funnel Cloud

Definition

A tornado is a violent rotating column of air that is contact with the ground and a cumulonimbus cloud.

A funnel cloud is a cone-shaped cloud composed of condensed water droplets that rotates with a column of wind and extends from a base of the cloud. It does not touch the ground.

Composition

Water droplets, dust, debris

Condensed water droplets

Shape

Cylindrical columns/pillars, wedges

Cone-shaped or needle like

Types

Landspout, multiple vortex tornado, and waterspout

Cold-air funnel clouds, waterspout and landspout

Speed

Anywhere between 40mph and 360mph.

Weak, lasts only a few minutes. Less than 40mph.

Sounds

Freight train, waterfall, jet engine

buzzing bees, roaring, waterfall-like

 

 

Image Courtesy: wakemedvoices.org
Image Courtesy: oregonlive.com

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