Breakdown: Why hurricanes can spawn tornadoes

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 7:51 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Many hurricanes can cause tornadoes to form when they move on shore. Most hurricanes that move inland will spawn at least one tornado. Tornadoes don’t form when hurricanes are over water because of the smooth surface of the water. Once a hurricane moves on land, tornadoes can form in the outer rain bands of a hurricane. Those outer rain bands usually contain thunderstorms.

When the hurricane moves on land friction from the land increases and that can slow down the wind near the ground meanwhile the air in the higher levels continue to spin at a faster rate. This creates a change in wind speed and direction with height which is called wind shear and it can cause a column of air to spin. The warm moisture filled unstable air can lift the spinning column which may start horizontal but the strong up and down drafts within a hurricane can cause the column to get tilted vertically causing a tornado to form.

Normally tornadoes that are spawned from hurricanes are weaker and short-lived compared to those formed from rotating thunderstorms.

How hurricanes spawn tornadoes
How hurricanes spawn tornadoes(NOAA)

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