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September 13, 2016 • Environment

Hurricane vs. Tornado, Which is more Catastrophic to your Home?

It’s a natural disaster throwdown – hurricanes vs. tornadoes. Whether you live in the heartland or by the coast, there are always weather events that can turn your town upside down! But which is worse?


If you live anywhere on the southern or southeastern coastlines of the US, you have probably endured at least one hurricane warning – and maybe even an actual event. Hurricanes sweep in from the beaches, pushing heavy winds and rain ahead of them, whipping up the ocean and flooding neighborhoods with the inexorable advance of the sea.

The devastation left behind is often waterlogged, and getting back to normal can take days, weeks, or months – or in several memorable and tragic occasions, years. Louisiana and Florida are both prime targets for the eye of the storm, and massive storms can wreak havoc on coastal towns.

A hurricane is normally days in the making, and early warning systems are generally in place. With proper evacuation, loss of life can be minimized- but when a truly massive storm hits – as in the case of Katrina – the damage can be vast and irreparable for years to come, with a terrible death toll and an entire city in ruins.


The well-known “Tornado Alley” steamrolls up through the heartland, running from Texas to Nebraska. “Twisters” form when rising air (called an updraft) starts to rotate, and eventually a funnel forms that is spinning at speeds up to 200+ mph.

When a tornado rips through a town, it can uproot and tear apart everything in its path. Houses, churches, stores, and more can be flattened in a matter of seconds. Cars, animals and people can be sucked up and flung far and wide – or, inexplicably, set down unharmed miles away from the point of origin.

A tornado can form in mere minutes, rip across a county, and just as suddenly die away. The damage it leaves behind is dry, but the devastation is no less horrific. Evacuation from the area can be much more difficult, due to the ability of a tornadic storm to circle around and change direction, and the speed with which a storm can pick up in intensity and danger.

Who Wins the Award for Worst Weather Ever?

Which is worse? It depends. Some tornadoes are worse than some hurricanes, and vice versa. Hurricanes tend to cause more loss of life, due to population density around coastal regions, but property damage can be swift and terrible when a tornado blows through.

Only an average of 6 serious hurricanes form in the Atlantic Basin each year – of which only a couple will make landfall in the US- but tornadoes form by the hundreds every year in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas alone.

Tornadoes can rip the roof off of your home in seconds, reduce your entire house to rubble, and leave you with nothing but a battered foundation. Hurricanes can do similar damage, but with a big helping of displaced water, soaking the remains and leaving you waist deep in sludge.

For most, the worst type of storm is the one they personally have experienced. Have you lived through a tornado or a hurricane and lived to tell the tale? Share in the comments section below!

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