Hurricanes and tornadoes are some of the most violent natural occurring disasters known to mankind. While there are many differences between the two, the stark similarities are as dramatic. Both are centered on gusting wind swirling around a center; however the diameters of the storms are quite different. While hurricanes can range from 100 to 300 miles wide, tornadoes usually have only a length of less than two miles. However, a tornado makes up for its small size with extremely high wind speeds, in excess of over 250 miles per hour. Hurricanes on the contrary have wind speeds from 74 to 160 miles per hour. To compare and to contrast hurricanes and tornadoes the main areas of interest are the creation of both disasters, and the destructive power that is associated with both tornadoes and hurricanes.
Hurricanes get their start over the warm tropical waters of the North Atlantic Ocean near the equator. Most hurricanes appear in late summer or early fall, when sea temperatures are at their highest. The warm waters heat the air above it, and the updrafts of warm, moist air begin to rise. At that longitude in the tropics, there is usually a layer of warm, dry air that acts like an invisible ceiling or lid. Once in a while, the lid that prevents the hurricane from forming is destroyed. Scientists do not know why this happens; however, when it does, it's the first step in the birth of a hurricane. With the lid off, the warm, moist air rises higher and higher. Heat energy, released as the water vapor in the air, condenses. As it condenses it drives the upper drafts to heights of 50,000 to 60,000 feet. The cumuli clouds become towering thunderheads. From outside the storm area, air moves in over the sea surface to replace the air soaring upwards in the thunderheads. The air begins swirling around the storm center, for the same reason that the air swirls around a tornado center. As this air swirls in over the sea surface, it soaks up more and more water vapor. At the...
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