Tornado vs. Hurricane

Tornado vs. Hurricane

Tornadoes and hurricanes are both destructive storms involving high winds. They differ mainly in size (with hurricanes being much larger) and location. Tornadoes occur mainly over land, whereas hurricanes begin over the ocean.

A tornado is a violent storm comprised of extremely strong winds spiraling around a central point in a funnel-shaped cloud. They move at 30-40 miles per hour with winds reaching over 300 miles per hour near the center. They are generally narrow in diameter compared with other storms, so their destruction is confined to a narrow path. Tornadoes often occur in groups. Tornado strength is measured on the Fujita scale.

A hurricane is an extremely large, destructive storm that is comprised of winds exceeding 74 miles per hour. They generally begin over water (especially the western Atlantic) and lose power once they move over land. They are usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning. Their strength is measured from 1 to 5 on a scale called the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Both are destructive storms that rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere. Tornadoes occur on all continents except Antarctica whereas hurricanes occur only in the North Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific Ocean. Tornadoes occur far more frequently (several thousand per year) than hurricanes (10-15 per year). Hurricanes can last several days, whereas tornadoes only last several minutes.

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