Both tornadoes and hurricanes can cause great damage, but they are two different types of storms. One of the important differences between a tornado and a hurricane is their relative size. A hurricane is easily visible from space because it covers a significant portion of the Earth’s surface. A tornado, on the other hand, is rarely visible from space because it is smaller and hidden under the clouds from where it formed.
What is Tornado
Tornadoes occur in most parts of the world. However, they are more prevalent in the continental plains of the United States. They are typically identified as a funnel of spiraling air descending from the cloud base to the ground. The tornado is usually narrow, about 1/2 km wide, and rarely moves more than 20 km.
The most violent tornadoes come from supercells, large storms that have already rotating winds. About one in a thousand storms becomes a supercell, and one in five or six supercells spawns a tornado. Like hurricanes, the precise mechanism of how the funnel forms are not understood.
What is Hurricane
Tropical storms start within 8º and 15º north and south of the equator, where sea surface temperatures reach 27ºC. The air over the warm sea heats up and rises. This causes low pressure.
The weather system generates heat that fuels the storm, increasing wind speeds. This makes the tropical storm self-sustaining. Tropical storms depend on warm, moist air from the sea, which is why they die out on land.
Hurricanes begin as tropical disturbance that is generated in the warm waters of the ocean. Especially those with surface temperatures of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.5 degrees Celsius). These low-pressure systems are powered by the energy of the warm sea. If this storm reaches wind speeds of 38 miles (61 kilometers) per hour, then it will be known as a tropical depression.
Hurricanes revolve around the “eye”; this is a center of low pressure in the middle of the formation. Sinking air makes this 20 to 30-mile-wide (32 to 48-kilometer-wide) area remarkably calm. But the eye is surrounded by a circular “eyewall” that harbors the storm’s strongest winds and rain.
Differences between Tornado and Hurricane
A hurricane forms over tropical oceans where the water is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). Warm, moist air rising into the upper troposphere and driven by strong tropical winds creates a low pressure at sea level.
Surrounding air rushes to equalize pressure and also rises, while cold air falls from the top of the weather system, eventually producing the storm’s characteristic spiral shape.
A tornado on the other hand forms over the land in large storm clouds. The funnel cloud that eventually touches down as a tornado is the result of horizontal wind shear between two different pressure areas in the cloud. This is one of the differences between tornado and hurricane.
When a tornado touches down, the diameter of its funnel is rarely more than 500 meters (0.25 miles) wide; the largest funnel ever recorded was 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) wide.
A hurricane is big enough to affect entire states or small countries; Hurricanes are typically 100 miles wide, but some can grow to such a size that they subdue a 500-mile area through gale-force winds. A hurricane can last for days or weeks, but a tornado is generally a short-lived phenomenon, usually lasting no more than an hour.
A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when the winds inside it reach a speed of at least 119 kilometers per hour (74 miles per hour), but a category 5 hurricane, the strongest type, has winds that exceed 250 kilometers. per hour (155 miles). Winds around the circumference of a tornado funnel cloud blow faster.
The strongest tornadoes feature winds that blow at speeds of 300 miles per hour (483 kilometers per hour) or more. Tornadoes with these maximum wind speeds are examples of F5 tornadoes on the Fujita-Pearson, or F, scale. At the lower end of the scale, an F0 tornado has winds of 64–166 kilometers per hour (40–72 miles per hour).
Another difference between a tornado and a hurricane is that tornadoes are much more common, with about 800 to 1,000 in the United States each year. Each year there are only about 10 tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean that are considered hurricanes.
Hurricanes can be predicted and usually have several days in advance, while tornadoes come on quickly, usually not more than 30 minutes in advance.
Hurricanes are much less common, but they can also cause much more damage. Tornadoes are quite common and they come and go quite quickly. They can still cause damage but are not considered as serious as hurricanes.
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