Hurricanes versus tornadoes

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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) – As Hurricane Ian passes through my home state of Florida, many people and property are being seriously affected. And while we don’t experience tropical systems here in the Midwest, we do occasionally experience the wrath of tornadoes. Although hurricanes and tornadoes both have fast-moving winds, they are extremely different.

First, hurricanes have winds that swirl around a center of low pressure that originates over warm tropical ocean waters. Tornadoes consist of a tightly rotating column of air that forms during a severe storm over land. Due to their tight winding, tornadoes can reach wind speeds of up to 300 mph unlike hurricanes which typically reach 180 mph. Hurricanes are much larger and span 300 miles across while tornadoes are typically less than a mile across. Storm surge is something you don’t see with a tornado. Storm surge is one of the deadliest features of any tropical system. It is wind-driven water that pushes inland and, in severe cases, can reach heights of 20 feet above ground level. Precipitation is another concern of tropical systems as they can move slowly and drop up to 15 to 30 inches of rain. This raises the issue of flash floods. Widespread power outages are also a big concern during and after a hurricane. No matter where you live, there are always extreme weather conditions to watch out for. For us in Nebraska, it’s tornadoes, hail and blizzards. It turns out that hurricanes are the price to pay for living in paradise.

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