It can be easy to misconstrue that thunderstorm, tornado, and hurricane are interchangeable terms because all three are characterized by strong winds and are considered severe, violent weather formations. Learn the differences among these three below:
A thunderstorm is a type of storm with heavy rain showers, thunder, and lightning. It is produced by cumulonimbus clouds and lasts an average of 30 minutes, although there are extreme instances where a thunderstorm can last more than an hour. Strong thunderstorms, called supercells, rotate like hurricanes. This is probably the reason it is mistaken for the other.
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A tornado is a violent spiraling funnel cloud that most of the time forms due to a thunderstorm, and can last from mere seconds to over an hour. It can mostly be seen in land, because the solar heating of the land surface contributes to the spawn of the vortex. There are times, though, that over-water tornadoes occur. Meteorologists say that tornadoes are one of the difficult to predict natural phenomena.
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A hurricane is also known as a tropical cyclone. It is a swirling low pressure system made up of clouds and thunderstorms that form over tropical or subtropical large bodies of water. It has a size that spans hundreds of miles and can last for a few hours up to a couple of weeks.
Weatherman Jim Byrne used to work as the chief meteorologist for KCOY CBS-12. At present, he is a consulting meteorologist for the Weather Channel program “So you think you’d survive.” Learn more about the weather by visiting this website.