Difference Between Cyclone Vs Tornado

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When you hear of the term “storm”, what comes to your mind? A lot, right? It could be a blizzard, heavy rain, lightning, hail, wind, and so on. Let us talk about the windstorm for the sake of this post. According to experts, this type of wind is strong enough to cause damages to the environment – it can light up the trees, take off the roof of a building, and can turn a loose item into a dangerous projectile.

Usually, windstorms are in the form of rapidly rotating columns of air, but they may have different features that make a particular one different from the other. In this post, we would be comparing cyclone vs tornado and discussing how they are different from one another. A cyclone is a huge air-mass that fiercely circulates about a central location of low atmospheric pressure. The rotation may be in a clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere, or in counterclockwise direction in the northern hemisphere. It is categorized into tropical, extratropical, and tornadoes.

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When there is an organized thunderstorm with no boundaries between air masses of different temperatures, then it is referred to as tropical. This type is also characterized by varying sustained surface wind; when it is less than 39 miles per hour, then it is called a tropical depression, but when it is 39 miles per hour or more, then it is referred to as a tropical storm. At 74 miles per hour and from over the Atlantic Ocean or the Caribbean Sea, it becomes a hurricane. It becomes a typhoon if it is from over the western Pacific Ocean.

Generally, cyclones have three main parts, they are the eye, which is the center of the storm; the eyewall, which is the area around the eye where the wind rotates; and the cloud chain, which is the cloud that forms outside the walls. A tornado is an aggressive rotating wind that comes in a funnel-shaped cloud that progresses in a narrow path over the land. Note that this definition is kind of similar to the one above, but there are some peculiarities that make them different from the other. For instance, this case has it that the windstorm takes place over the land, while in the other case, it originates from over a water body.

Meteorologists have it that this type of storm must be in contact with both the ground and the cloud base, visible as a vertical funnel of rapidly spinning air. In comparing tornado vs cyclone, one of the most obvious differences is the former is relatively small when compared to the former. This phenomenon is basically caused by supercells of large thunderstorms that have air already in circulation, and most commonly seen in Texas. The duration spans from a few seconds to as long as a couple of hours or even more. On average, it is about 660 feet wide and moves about 30 miles per hour.

There is so much to be said about the difference between cyclone and tornado, but we have summarized them by highlighting the most basic of them all in the table below. Definition A huge air-mass that fiercely circulates about a central location of low atmospheric pressure An aggressive rotating wind that comes in a funnel-shaped cloud that progresses in a narrow path over the land.

In conclusion, the difference between tornado and cyclone is based on the location of occurrence, size, and causative factors. Records have it that the latter has mostly affected the Pacific Ocean more than any other water body there is. The former, on the other hand, is most common in areas where a convergence of cold and warm fronts is common. Also, according to record, the US records about 1200 cases of the former annually, but the Netherlands experience even more. 

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