The Wright Stuff + Sky-Web

Tornado image NSSL0059, copyright NOAA


Tornado image NSSL0176, copyright NOAA

Hurricane, cyclones? What's the difference? Nothing much really, it's simply that people in different areas traditionally use different names for the same thing. However tornadoes are different. They are smaller, of a more local nature with a shorter life and are a part of a large storm system, while hurricanes and cyclones affect very much larger areas, refer to an entire storm system, and can be tracked for several days. Hurricanes come from the Atlantic ocean and cyclones occur in the Pacific Ocean.

Tornadoes strength is measured on the Fujita Scale, named after Tetsuya Theododore Fujita. This was revised to the Enhanced Fujita Scale which looks more closely at the damage done, as wind speeds are hard to measure in such storms. The scales are equivalent. EG an F2 = an EF2, and F4 = an EF4 and so on. In theory the original F scales goes up to 12 !!!

F0 Gale 40 - 72 mph Some damage to chimneys, broken branches on trees, shallow rooted trees pushed over, hoardings damaged.
F1 Moderate Tornado 73 - 112 mph The lower speed is the beginning of hurricane winds speeds, roofing slates removed, mobile homes and caravans blown over, moving cars pushed off the road, garages damaged.
F2 Significant Tornado 113 - 157 mph Considerable damage to property, Entire roofs torn off houses, mobile homes etc. destroyed, railway carriages pushed over, large trees snapped in two and uprooted, light objects act as missiles.
F3 Severe Tornado 158 - 206 mph Roofs and walls torn off, trains overturned, most trees in forests uprooted.
F4 Devastating Tornado 207 - 260 mph Well-built houses flattened, houses with weak foundations relocated, cars thrown around, large objects act as missiles.
Hurricane Dorian, September 2019, was this level of storm!
F5 Incredible Tornado 261 - 318 mph Strong houses relocated considerable distances, tending to disintegrate, cars sized missiles encountered, flying around 100 m, bark stripped from trees,steel-reinforced concrete structures badly damaged.
In the movie Twister they called this "The Finger of God".
F6 Inconceivable Tornado 319 - 379 mph Very unlikely and hard to identify amongst the carnage from the F4 and F5 winds on the outside of such a storm. The ground itself may have swirl patterns.

There are several scales used to measure the strength of hurricanes, and you can read about these hurriane/tornado scales on Wikipedia.

BBC Feature - on how hurricanes form is just one of many articles from the BBC's site Weather Feature section. Like all BBC articles, it is well written, and not difficult to understand. It includes some good animations on what happens as well. There's a second BBC feature on How do thunderstorms form as well, also with good animations.

How Stuff Works - Hurricanes is a featured set of pages from a site that explains how things work. The pages are good, and the site is a popular choice or explanations of many things, an online encyclopedia that is continually being added to. you can try asking the experts a question and it might get featured as their question of the day.

Tornado Severe Weather is an informative page on tornadoes, at The Disaster Centre, whose home page covers all sorts of disasters! Including hurricanes, car accidents, terrorists threats, US cause of death statistics, droughts, earthquakes and a whole lot more. Trouble is, the home page is very big and takes a little bit longer than most to fully load.

Become a Storm Spotter from Home - an American site on how to be come a Storm Spotter. It has advice on how to log weather info, where to get useful info on weather and storms in particular, and even passing info to local authorities. This link was found by the very helpful Mia, a fan of my website. Thanks, Mia.

A guide to Tornadoes is a site for young people with links to other similar sites. It uses plain language to explain things. This site was found by another fan of my site, Peyton, and she generously shared the link. Thanks, Peyton

Safety During a Tornedo is an interesting site found by yet another fan of tornadoes, Ashley Neale - thanks for the link, Ashley. It provides info on being prepared for trouble if you live in a tornado-prone area, and then tips on recognising tornadoes. It ends with some more links to useful sites.

What is a tornado? is another site for young people, covering eight sections, in easy to understand language.

TORRO, the UK Tornado and Storm Research Organisation has a lot of stuff of interest to UK pilots.

The Tornado Project Online! is a very well organised site for tornado fans. It has many sections and sells some beautiful tornado posters, videos and even T-shirts with tornado designs. In it's first two years it received over 750,000 hits (by browsers, not tornadoes). Can't be bad!

Surviving the Storm

Here are a few links on preparations that help you survive the storm, if you are unfortunate enough to live in a hurricane prone area. Some of these are pages with lots of info and links to related advice sites.

Safety During a Tornedo is an interesting site found by yet another fan of tornadoes, Ashley Neale - thanks for the link, Ashley. It provides info on being prepared for trouble if you live in a tornado-prone area, and then tips on recognising tornadoes. It ends with some more links to useful sites.

How to protect a home from damage is advice from a real estate company on how to have a more secure home in one of these areas.

Safety tips on how to survive a hurricane from a site called The Old Farmer's Almanac.
And their Weather Survival Tips has articles on other extreme weather survival tips.How to survive a Hurricane has more tips on prior preporation for those who like to plan ahead.

Emergency Preparedness Storage Guide is a guide to safe secure storage of the various things you would need in an emergency, with links to lots of sources of useful information.

Flood Safety and Preparedness Guide is a guide to survivig floods, obviously. Many bad weather events are accompanied by floods, and this provides some useful info on improving your survival chances. Thanks to young Carmelo, a fan of this site, for finding this one.

Hurricane Guide - What you need to Know Another guide to preparing for and therefore being able to survive a hurricane. Once again, lots of good tips. In some areas, such as Florida and the nearby Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana, it is best to be prepared, as this sort of bad weather affects them every year.