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Hurricane, typhoon, cyclone, tornado: Which one is the Big Bad Wolf?

Hurricane -- The Hot Mess Press

For Americans, the threat of terrifying mechanisms of destruction has arrived. The six-month period from June 1 through Nov. 30 is hurricane season. Reportedly, the federal government expects a lot of Atlantic hurricane activity in 2021. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters agree, predicting as many as 10 hurricanes this year — average seasons bring only seven.

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are similar weather phenomena with different regional names. However, tornadoes are entirely different. Nevertheless, both produce powerful rotating winds with the potential to cause catastrophic damage.

Interesting hurricane facts

Hurricane over Florida

Hurricanes in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere spin in opposite directions. They spin clockwise in the south and counterclockwise in the north. (And no, the same is not true for toilets, regardless of what you’ve been told))

Hurricanes are massive — with centers between 2 and 200 miles. That is 3km and 321km.

Massive hurricanes could have widths of up to 500 miles (800km)

Tornadoes spin faster than hurricanes, but they pass much quicker.

Hurricanes spin at an average speed of about 160mph, which is 260km/h.

At that speed, in a single day, a hurricane can unleash over 9 trillion gallons of rain. (I’m not going to convert that to liters because I’m sure you get the picture)

Looking past the destruction they cause, the real mature ones could generate electric energy equal to one-half of electricity generated globally.

The distances hurricanes travel are much longer than those of tornadoes.

In 1994, weather services recorded the longest distance traveled by a hurricane. It only died down after traveling almost 11,500 kilometers (7,145 miles)

The deadliest hurricane, or cyclone as it is known in Asia, occurred in Bangladesh in 1970. Cyclone Bhola caused the death of between 300,000 and 500,000 people.

Differences between Hurricanes and tornadoes

Tornado and tree

In comparison, tornadoes are more commonplace than hurricanes. Although they can cause a significant amount of damage, they do not linger and are not considered as dangerous as hurricanes.

Hurricanes form over tropical oceans with warmer water, and tornadoes form over land.

Jet streams play a role in both; tornadoes form close to them, and hurricanes develop great distances away from them.

The width of tornadoes seldom exceeds one-quarter mile. In contrast, hurricanes can easily reach widths of hundreds of miles.

The average of one hour that tornadoes last is insignificant compared to hurricanes, which can destruct and devastate for about three weeks.

Although several categories of hurricanes exist, their winds are seldom faster than 180mph (289km/h). However, tornadoes can cause winds of about 300mph (482km/h) if they are severe. Just as well, they pass quickly.

Of the two storms, tornadoes are most common. Compared to the seven to 10 hurricanes developing in the Atlantic Ocean each year, the U.S. gets between 800 to 1,000 tornadoes per year.

Fortunately, weather services can predict the formation of hurricanes pretty accurately, and in most cases, people have several days to prepare for approaching storms. In comparison, there is seldom more than about 30 minutes of notice before tornadoes strike.

With all that said, hurricanes and their siblings, typhoons in the Pacific and cyclones in the Indian Ocean are certainly the Big Bad Wolves of storms. Can you guess what the Australians call tropical storms?

Willy-willies!

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