Hurricanes and Tornados - What's The Difference?
Hurricanes are substantially larger than tornadoes and very different in appearance. While a hurricane appears as a huge, circular mass of swirling clouds, a tornado manifests itself as a smaller, dark-gray, funnel-shaped cloud. Because of their size and shape, you can see some differences in how these two powerful phenomena make their assaults. The hurricane is larger and causes more of a sustained attack lasting for many hours.
Because of its large, circular (swirling) formation, the center of a hurricane (the eye) is very peaceful. It is also very dangerous. The eye of the storm can last from a few seconds to a half hour; it's extremely unpredictable. Calm air can become a ferocious 100-mph wind in a matter of seconds.
The tornado works differently. Where the funnel touches down, it is incredibly violent. The cyclone churns upon itself, generating devastatingly powerful winds.
So which one is more dangerous? It's a trade-off. The hurricane is bigger and lasts much longer, but isn't quite as strong as the smaller, erratic, short-lived tornado (some tornadoes last only a few seconds). A powerful hurricane attacks a city for hours lasting days with gusts of up to 160 mph. The tornado, on the other hand, briefly cuts an erratic, sharp path of destruction brought on by winds of up to 500 mph. Both are powerful and frightening, but you don't have to be completely at their mercy. There are ways for you to lessen the devastation.