Difference between Hurricane and Tornado

 

Key Difference: A hurricane is tropical cyclone that is characterized by thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rains. A hurricane needs a warm area to develop and cannot exist in cold areas; hence they are most common in tropical areas. A tornado on the other hand is a violent rotating column of air that is contact with both the ground as well as a cumulonimbus cloud. A hurricane can cause wind speed of 74mph to over 155mph, compared to a tornado whose wind speeds are between 40mph and 360mph. Tornadoes form on the land, while some can form on water; however a hurricane forms on the water.

 

 A hurricane is also known as a tropical cyclone. It has a closed, circular fluid motion. The low pressure center is known as the eye and the strong winds surrounding the eye is called the eye wall. A hurricane is characterized by thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rains. A hurricane needs a warm area to develop and cannot exist in cold areas; hence they are most common in tropical areas.

 

Hurricanes generally develop where water is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. 27 degree Celsius). They form from a low pressure system, where the hot air rises and cold air sinks underneath. Bands of rain clouds slowly form around the center of the system, while the winds and jet steam push the hurricane further into the ocean. It starts as a wave, turns into a storm and then finally a hurricane. Hurricanes travel clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. A hurricane can last up to days, if it receives the right pressure conditions. A hurricane will dissipate over ground, however can still damage due to the strong winds and rain.

 

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 40mph and 360mph. Tornadoes often develop from a class of thunderstorms known as supercells. Supercells contain mesocyclones, an area of organized rotation a few miles up in the atmosphere, usually 2–10 km across. As the mesocyclone lowers to the base of the cloud, it begins to start taking in cool air from the downdraft region of the storm. The warm air in the updraft and the cool air in the downdraft form a wall of rotating air, forming the beginnings of a tornado. A tornado dies or dissipates when the downdraft encases the tornado and cuts off the warm air supply to the core, causing the vortex to weaken and eventually die.

 

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 can also be detected using Pulse-Doppler radars and their strength is determined using either the Enhanced Fujita Scale or the TORRO scale.

 

 

 

Hurricane

Tornado

Definition

A hurricane is also known as a tropical cyclone. It has a closed, circular fluid motion. A hurricane is characterized by thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rains.

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

Composition

Moist air, water

Water droplets, dust, debris

Shape

Closed, circular fluid motion. The low pressure center is known as the eye and the strong winds surrounding the eye is called the eye wall

Cylindrical columns/pillars, wedges

Types

Hurricane is type of cyclone

Landspout, multiple vortex tornado, and waterspout

Speed

Wind speed of 74mph to over 155mph

Anywhere between 40mph and 360mph

Rotation

Clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere

Clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere; counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere

Scale for Measurement

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Fujita (F), Enhanced Fujita (EF), and TORRO (T) Scale

Size

Radius of outermost closed isobar can range from 222km to 888 km

Has a diameter on the scale of hundreds of meters

How are they formed

Warm low-pressure air rises, while cold high-pressure air moves underneath it

Produced from a single convective storm (i.e. a thunderstorm or cumulonimbus cloud)

Location

Tropical zone, over warm waters in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean

Can form on any continent, except Antarctica

Life

Days

Minutes or hours

 

 

Image Courtesy: amerigas.com
Image Courtesy: popsci.com.au

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Comments

Tornadoes are not 'also known as cyclones'. Cyclones are completely different from tornadoes. Tornadoes are thin, funnel-shaped destructive tunnels of air, whereas cyclones are large winds, up to a possible 1000 kilometres across, and are most definitely NOT TORNADOES.

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