Differences: Cyclone Vs Hurricane Vs Tornado

Get the facts right. Determine the difference between these 3 terms and here’s the answer.

A hurricane is a tropical cyclone. Simply put:

Hurricane = Cyclone

What is a Hurricane = Cyclone

A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a low pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and flooding rain. A tropical cyclone feeds on heat released when moist air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapour contained in the moist air. They are fueled by a different heat mechanism than other cyclonic windstorms such as nor’easters, European windstorms, and polar lows, leading to their classification as “warm core” storm systems.


What does a cyclone looks like?

What is a tornado

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air which is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. Tornadoes come in many sizes but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris.


What does a tornado looks like?

Differences Between Tornado and Cyclone

Tornado Cyclone
Size Has a diameter on the scale of hundreds of meters Has a diameter on the scale of hundreds of kilometers
How are they formed Produced from a single convective storm (i.e. a thunderstorm or cumulonimbus cloud) Comprised of several to dozens of convective storms
Required Condition require substantial vertical shear of the horizontal winds to provide ideal conditions for tornado genesis, and usua;;y happens in regions of large temperature gradient Require very low values of tropospheric vertical shear in order to form and grow, and generated in regions of near zero horizontal temperature gradient
Appears on Primarily an over-land phenomenon, as solar heating of the land surface usually contributes toward the development of the thunderstorm that spawns the vortex, although over-water tornadoes have occurred Purely an oceanic phenomena. They die out over land due to a loss of a moisture source
Lifetime Usually dies out in minutes Can last for a few days

8 thoughts on “Differences: Cyclone Vs Hurricane Vs Tornado

  1. This was very helpful! I was looking up the tornado of May 27, 1896 in Illinois and two sites said that it was not a tornado, but a cyclone. This site helped me understand the difference.
    – Sarena Bee
    ps. Thnaks!!

  2. The important historical question then becomes this —
    Was it a cyclone or a tornado that Dorothy and Toto experienced in Kansas way back when…..

  3. Thanks a lot for the useful and informative article. I was really confused about the differences between tornadoes and cyclones.. but this was useful

  4. Thanks for this useful information about the differences between the tornado and cyclone .
    this was very useful to me.thanks once again.

  5. Thanks David for the thorough description of the various differences, you site has concluded my search. Thanks again.

    PS: it was a tornado from the above description, that Dorothy and Toto experienced in Kansas in answer to Jim ‘s question.

  6. Being in Australia, we get a quite a few Cyclones a year ranging from Northern Western Australia to far North Queensland.

    From news coverage from the United States one gets the impression that Tornados are very destructive, so I have often wondered what is the difference between a Tornado or a Cyclone?

    I’ll take a Tornado any day. Thank you for the information, your site and explanations are a lot more helpful than other sites I have visited for answers.

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