12/12/12 Tornadoes vs. Hurricanes Hurricanes and tornadoes are both very serious, strong forces of nature that can be extremely destructive and devastating. They are of the most violent natural catastrophes ever, and both can cause great damage with their overwhelming windstorms. They both consist of very heavy rain and winds and have unusually high wind-speeds. Although they seem a lot alike and very similar, they have many differences. Hurricanes and tornadoes are both stormy atmospheric systems that can cause great destruction, but they differ in length, speed and intensity, and climatic influences. Tornadoes have diameters on the scale of the 100’s of meters and are produced by a single storm, such as a thunderstorm or a cumulonimbus. The diameter of a tornado’s eye is only a few feet in diameter, while the diameter of a hurricane’s eye is 10-20 miles. Because tornadoes move rapidly, they could cause more damage than their size might suggest. A hurricane, or a tropical cyclone, has a diameter on the scale of 100s of kilometers and is made up of many storms. The average hurricane is 322-483 kilometers in diameter and really big hurricanes can span 1,127 kilometers. The size of a hurricane is not directly related to its wind speed or force. Small ones can be extremely strong, while big ones can be relatively mild. The spiraling winds of the most powerful tornados can reach a speed of about 320 miles per hour, the most violent winds on earth. This is faster than airplanes could fly, faster than a formula one race car, and almost half the speed of sound. However, most tornadoes range at less than 200 miles per hour, which is still fast enough to uproot trees...
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