what is worse a hurricane or a tornado

What is worse a hurricane or a tornado? Both hurricanes and tornadoes are extreme weather events that may cause substantial damage. 

But which of these two is the worst? In this blog post, we will answer this question by differentiating the two.

Keep reading!

Even though tornadoes have much stronger winds than the strongest hurricanes, hurricanes usually do much more damage on their own, over a longer period of time and a much larger area.

Every year, hurricanes cause ten times as much damage as tornadoes.

What Is Worse A Hurricane Or A Tornado?

Both hurricanes and tornadoes create tremendous, whirling gusts that may leave a trail of death and damage in their wake.

However, hurricanes and tornadoes vary in critical areas, such as magnitude and length, as well as how, when, and where they originate.

As explained below:

1. Wind Speed

speed of wind

On average, tornadoes have much stronger wind speeds than hurricanes.

The most powerful tornadoes have the potential to generate winds of over 207 miles per hour, while the most powerful storms have speeds of 131 miles per hour or higher.

2. Size

Hurricanes are far more significant than tornadoes. A hurricane’s average width is roughly 300 miles.

However, this varies greatly depending on the storm.

A hurricane's eye might be 20 to 40 miles wide. 

On the other hand, the ordinary tornado is around 500 feet broad and may last up to 5 miles before fading out.

According to the National Weather Service, a tornado’s normal path of destruction is around 1-2 miles long and 50 yards wide.

3. Season

hurricane tornado season

The first day of June marks the beginning of hurricane season until November 30, with the most intense storms occurring between August and October.

While tornadoes may occur at any time of the year, the most dangerous ones often occur in the late winter and early spring.

4. Location

Tornadoes may develop almost everywhere in the United States.

However, the Great Plains region in the middle of the country is where they occur most often because the climate there is favorable for the development of strong thunderstorms.

Hurricanes have a greater probability of making landfall in coastal areas. 

The three states in the United States that have experienced the most hurricanes are Texas, Florida, and Louisiana.

5. The Intensity and the Amount of Damage

intensity and damage amount

Hurricanes may be broken down into one of five different categories.

Wind gusts and the severity of damage get more severe as the category number rises from 1 to 5.

  • Hurricanes of categories ranging from 74 to 90 miles per hour inflict very modest damage (mph).
  • Category two hurricanes generate considerable damage with wind speeds ranging from 96 to 110 mph.
  • Hurricanes of category three cause extensive damage with wind speeds between 111 and 130 mph. 
  • Hurricanes of category four cause extreme damage with wind speeds between 131 and 155 mph. 
  • Hurricanes of category 5 produce devastating damage with winds exceeding 155 mph.

There is a correlation between the length of a tornado’s path and its strength; violent tornadoes tend to have longer paths.

There are three different scales that are used in the process of estimating the destructive potential of tornadoes.

These scales are referred to as the Fujita (F), Expanded Fujita (EF), and TORRO (T) Scales.

Damage levels vary from F0, EF0, or T0 (affecting just trees and not structures) to F5, EF5, or T11, causing extensive damage to both trees and buildings.

The majority of tornadoes that occur in the United States are classified as either an EF0 or an EF1 (T0 to T3), and fewer than 1 percent of them are deemed to be severe (EF4, T8, or more).

6. Temperature Gradient

temperature gradient of location

The conditions leading to tornadoes’ formation are locations with a significant temperature gradient.

In contrast, those that lead to the formation of tropical cyclones are regions with a nearly null horizontal temperature gradient. 

As a result, tornadoes often form over land (where the sun’s heat may provide the necessary temperature differential).

Still, tropical cyclones are phenomena that take place over water.

Hurricanes quickly lose their strength after landfall because the essential amount of moisture is not present on the land.

7. Frequency

frequency

Around five to six hurricanes form each year in the Atlantic ocean. Hurricanes tend to concentrate in and around the Caribbean region.

The western coast of Africa is the birthplace of a string of low-pressure systems that will eventually make their way across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Some of these systems do develop into tropical storms, even though the majority of them do not.

The months of August and September are peak months for hurricane activity in the Caribbean, which see the most storms throughout the hurricane season, from June to November

Every year, there are around nine tropical storms that develop, with 5 of them developing into hurricanes.

As reported by the National Hurricane Center, three hundred eighty-five hurricanes hit the Caribbean region between 1494 and 1900.

Tornadoes

The United States of America sees around 1,200 tornadoes per year.

Still, the Netherlands sees the most significant number of tornadoes relative to the geographical area of any country in the world.

South Africa, Paraguay, and sections of Argentina are among the other nations prone to regularly seeing tornadoes. 

Tornadoes are also common in some regions of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

The spring and autumn seasons are when tornadoes are most prevalent, whereas the winter months see less of these violent storms.

8. Characteristics 

characteristics of tornado and hurricane

Hurricanes Lose Strength Quickly

The warmth and moisture that come from the ocean are the primary ingredients of hurricanes, formed over water in the ocean warmer than 26.5 degrees Celsius.

As a result, hurricanes quickly lose strength when they pass over land or frigid oceans, which cannot provide the necessary amount of heat or moisture to maintain the storm. 

Hurricanes Have Low-Pressure Centers

hurricane low pressure center

Hurricanes have low-pressure centers referred to as the “eye” and are known to have higher temperatures than their surroundings.

The region characterized by high wind speeds and heavy precipitation is called the "eye wall." 

Hurricanes do not have fronts on their path.

The height of hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean typically occurs between the middle of August and the end of October.

Tornadoes Vary In Magnitude 

Tornadoes may take numerous forms and can be of varying magnitude.

Stovepipe tornadoes are so named because they resemble gigantic funnels that are short in height and have a cylindrical form.

Wedge tornadoes, on the other hand, seem more like giant wedges that are firmly planted in the ground.

A Tornado May Take The Shape Of A Small, Low-Lying Dust Devil

tornado dust devil

A tornado can take the form of a tiny dust devil that stays low to the ground and is difficult to see.

Similarly, tornadoes are referred to as “rope tornadoes” when they take on a twisted and rope-like appearance that is thin and stretches from the clouds down in a long and narrow tube-like pattern. 

Multiple tornadoes that spin around a common core may appear like a single funnel, even if they include more than one vortex.

Many other tornadoes include multiple vortices, waterspouts, gustnadoes, fire whirls, steam devils, and daredevils.

What is Worse Than a Tornado or Hurricane?

worse than tornado hurricane

Hurricanes are a more dangerous and destructive weather phenomenon than tornadoes. For instance:

During the hurricane season in the Atlantic in 2021, six of the seven named storms made landfall.

The storm that caused the most damage was Hurricane Ida, which first struck Cuba on August 27 and then returned to the area around Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on August 29.

At least 115 people were killed due to the storm; 95 fatalities occurred in the United States, while 20 occurred in Venezuela. 

The storm also produced an estimated $65.25 billion in damage.

These six storms were responsible for more deaths and property damage worldwide in 2021 than the more than 2,000 tornadoes that occurred around the globe in the same year (more than 1,300 of which occurred in the U.S.)

Final Verdict

What is worse, a hurricane or a tornado? According to the statistics, hurricanes are far more dangerous than tornadoes.

Although a single tornado may produce stronger and quicker winds than a hurricane, the potential damage caused by a hurricane is greater because of its bigger size and longer lifespan.

Thanks for Reading!

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