Tornadoes vs. Hurricanes: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:05 Tornadoes & Hurricanes
  • 0:35 Tornadoes Versus Hurricanes
  • 1:59 Tornadoes of the Past
  • 2:50 Hurricanes of the Past
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Oftentimes, people confuse tornadoes and hurricanes. However, there are many differences between them. Learn about their similarities and differences, as well as about some notable hurricanes and tornadoes of the past.

Tornadoes & Hurricanes

Have you ever spun a top? What did you notice about the way it moves? The top spins around a fixed point in the center. This is how both tornadoes and hurricanes move, too! Both are storms with strong winds that swirl around and around. Another similarity between tornadoes and hurricanes is that they're both very destructive, meaning they can destroy just about anything in their path. Therefore, it's important that you do everything you can to stay safe in either one of these types of storms.

Tornadoes Versus Hurricanes

Other than both being rotating storms that can cause mass destruction, tornadoes and hurricanes have nothing in common. For one thing, they have very different beginnings. Tornadoes form over land, while hurricanes form over water. Most of the time, hurricanes form because of a storm in a warm or tropical area, while tornadoes can form because of a variety of situations in a variety of places. Hurricanes occur less frequently than tornadoes, too.

Another difference between hurricanes and tornadoes is their size. While hurricanes can be hundreds of miles wide, tornadoes are normally less than a quarter mile wide. However, don't make the mistake of seeing the small size of tornadoes as a sign of weakness. These bad boys are not to be messed with! What tornadoes lack in size, they make up for in power. Winds in a tornado can move as fast as 300 miles per hour, while hurricanes tend to have winds that are less than 180 miles per hour. Tornadoes are quick to the punch and normally last less than an hour, while hurricanes can drag on for weeks.

Hurricanes and tornadoes differ in appearance, too. To a person on the ground experiencing a hurricane, it might just look like a bad thunderstorm. A tornado, however, can look very different. Tornadoes take the shape of a funnel, which looks like a tube that's wide at the top and skinny at the bottom.

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