Weather Wise Kids: Tornadoes Associated with Hurricanes


Walker wants to know why tornadoes are more common on one side of a hurricane and not all over it.


Let’s start with the idea that most tropical storms and hurricanes that make landfall create at least a few tornadoes within rain bands wrapping around the storm.

The reason… all the necessary ingredients to form tornadoes are available.

First… most hurricanes carry with them individual supercells… which are rotating… well-organized thunderstorms.

Second… hurricanes bring with them warm and moist surface air… which acts as their fuel.

Finally… hurricanes create wind shear… or an abrupt change in wind speed and direction over a short distance in height. These alternating winds enhance the chance of a tornado.

These tornadoes typically form on the right side of a tropical storm or hurricane… often occurring along and ahead of where the center of the storm crosses the coast because this is a region where winds and moisture go from water to land.

And as they move over land… friction slows down the low level wind creating even more wind speed and directional change with height. This creates rain bands that rotate and a better chance of tornadoes.

If you are trying to find the right front quadrant side of the storm… here is an example. If the storm is moving north… you’re most likely to find tornadoes to the northeast of the cyclone’s eye… which is the front right quadrant.

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