Are Tornadoes Worse Than Hurricanes?

Every year, tornadoes and hurricanes take multiple lives and cause billions of dollars in property damage. Being caught in the pathway of these monster storms is a terrifying and helpless feeling, but can one really be worse than the other?

When it comes to the trauma and distress they can cause to children, adults, and the environment, probably not. However, one of these types of storms does cause more financial damage and leads to more tragic deaths.

Tornado vs. Hurricane: Which Is Which?

People who don’t live in areas where hurricanes or tornadoes are common may not have a clear understanding of what defines these storms. Both are known for producing extremely dangerous high winds, but hurricanes and tornadoes are very different storms. 

Hurricanes form tropical zones when a cyclone of wind moving around 75 miles per hour or more forms over the ocean. These storms move, bringing not only wind with them but rain, thunder, and lightning as well. 

If and when they reach land, the devastation they cause can be catastrophic. For instance, in 2017, Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, causing at least 2,975 deaths as well as around $90 billion in damage. 

Tornadoes are also swirling cycles of wind believed to be caused by rotating thunderstorms. The key difference is that these form on land. However, because wind is not inherently visible, tornadoes can remain “hidden” until they become strong enough to circulate dust and other debris in their funnel-shaped cloud. 

One of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history swept through Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, killing approximately 161

Tornado vs. Hurricane: Which Is Worse?

Both tornadoes and hurricanes are incredibly destructive, but as for which is “worse,” several factors need to be considered, including the following:

  • Tornadoes can be stronger than hurricanes
  • Hurricanes are larger and can be several hundred miles in diameter, while tornadoes reach around 25 miles across
  • Individual tornadoes are difficult to predict and provide little warning time
  • Hurricane warnings may be issued up to a week before landfall

The measurement of which is “worse” is typically decided by scale. According to American GeoSciences, hurricanes cause more damage over far bigger areas. The massive flooding associated with hurricanes displaces more people than are displaced by a tornado. 

However, hurricanes are only a threat during their particular “season,” which lasts from around the beginning of June to the end of November in the U.S.

Tornadoes, in contrast, are more intense storm systems than hurricanes and are capable of happening year-round. They only cause around one-tenth the damage per year as hurricanes cause, but because they are largely unpredictable, tornadoes cause a more immediate threat for those who live in their paths. 

Several factors influence how much damage an individual storm can cause, including the preparedness of the community. Nevertheless, all in all, hurricanes cause more damage to larger areas in one year than tornadoes, which can be said to make them the “worst” out of the two.

Ultimately, as frightening as they sound, it’s important to keep the danger of both tornadoes and hurricanes in perspective. Car accidents kill far more people in the U.S. than hurricanes or tornadoes combined, as a matter of fact.

Do You Live in Hurricane or Tornado Country?

If your area is prone to either hurricanes or tornadoes, you’re probably less concerned about which storm is worse than you are about keeping yourself and your family safe. 

Whether it’s a wildfire, a major power outage, or a record-setting storm, there’s always something to be prepared for. The best protection for either a hurricane or a tornado is to have a plan in place. In all cases, following the advice of local authorities is the best course of action. 

If you’ve been injured and need a personal injury lawyer , please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

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