Breakdown: Why hurricanes spawn tornadoes

Breakdown: Why hurricanes spawn tornadoes

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - While tornadoes and hurricanes seem very similar the formation of the two are pretty different. Hurricanes are fueled from warm water and is a cluster of storms that become organized around a center. However, within these cluster of storms, hurricanes carry supercells which spawn tornadoes. Hurricanes can last for days in contrast tornadoes only last for minutes.

For tornadoes to form, instability and shear are necessary elements. Instability is warm moist air that is rising into cooler air at the higher levels, this big temperature contrast causes instability. As for shear, it is the turning of wind in different directions and speed as you go up. Hurricanes carry both elements. When hurricanes move on land, it will encounter friction which will disrupt the organized rotation and cause winds to weaken at the ground levels. Winds will come together from all different directions causing air to spiral upward. Wind speeds higher above the ground will continue at all different directions and speeds. This will create shear and instability making it ripe for tornado development. This most often occurs on the northeast side of the storm or also known as the right front quadrant of a hurricane.

Almost all tropical system that make landfall will spawn at least one tornado. Usually, the tornadoes tend to be weak and more short-lived than those that don’t form from hurricanes. Hurricane Ivan spawned 117 tornadoes so while they may be weak there can be numerous.

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