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While tornadoes can cause much havoc on the ground (tornadic wind speeds have been estimated at 100 to more than 300 mph), they have very short lifetimes (on the order of minutes), and travel short distances.
Both are characterized by extremely strong horizontal winds swirling around the center, strong upward motion dominating the circulation with some downward motion in the center.When these two work together like this, they create a storm cell.Some thunderstorms stay like this, but some grow even larger and become supercells.Hurricanes, on the other hand, are large-scale circulations with horizontal dimensions from 60 to well over 1000 miles in diameter.They form at low latitudes, generally between 5 and 20 degrees, but never right at the equator.Tornadoes are "small-scale circulations", the largest observed horizontal dimensions in the most severe cases being on the order of 1 to 1.5 miles.They most often form in association with severe thunderstorms which develop in the high wind-shear environment of the Central Plains during spring and early summer, when the large-scale wind flow provides favorable conditions for the sometimes violent clash between the moist warm air from the Gulf of Mexico with the cold dry continental air coming from the northwest.This is what scientists believe happens in the supercell that creates the spinning funnel cloud.And just like the rain brings down cool air as it heads toward the ground, it also brings down the funnel cloud and turns it into a tornado. They were ripped from Kansas in a wild tornado and taken far from home.In this video lesson, you will learn how and where they form, as well as how scientists classify tornadoes using the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Tornadoes are spinning funnel clouds produced by thunderstorm clouds.Acting like an arm that reaches down from the thunderstorm cloud, these violent rotating funnels extend from sky to ground.