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Tornadoes: Just one part of a hurricane’s fury

May 23, 2012
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Hurricanes can produce tornadoes that add to the storm's destructive power. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right-front quadrant of the hurricane. However, they are also often found elsewhere embedded in the rainbands, well away from the center of the hurricane.

Some hurricanes seem to produce no tornadoes, while others develop multiple ones. Studies have shown that more than half of the landfalling hurricanes produce at least one tornado; Hurricane Buelah (1967) spawned 141 according to one study.

In general, tornadoes associated with hurricanes are less intense than those that occur in the Great Plains.

Nonetheless, the effects of tornadoes, added to the larger area of hurricane-force winds, can produce substantial damage.

We have no way at present to predict exactly which storms will spawn tornadoes or where they will touch down. The new Doppler radar systems have greatly improved the forecaster's warning capability, but the technology usually provides lead times from only a few minutes up to about 30 minutes. Consequently, preparedness is critical.

Tornado Facts

When associated with hurricanes, tornadoes are not usually accompanied by hail or a lot of lightning, clues that citizens in other parts of the country watch for.

Tornado production can occur for days after landfall when the tropical cyclone remnants maintain an identifiable low pressure circulation.

They can also develop at any time of the day or night during landfall. However, by 12 hours after landfall, tornadoes tend to occur mainly during daytime hours.

The Fujita scale

The original Fujita scale (F-scale) was replaced with the Enhanced Fujita scale on February 1, 2007. The Enhanced F-scale still is a set of wind estimates (not measurements) based on damage. It uses three-second gusts estimated at the point of damage based on a judgment of 8 levels of damage to 28 indicators. These estimates vary with height and exposure. Important note: The 3 second gust is not the same wind as in standard surface observations. Standard measurements are taken by weather stations in open exposures, using a directly measured, "one minute mile" speed. The scale uses actual damage to determine a tornado's wind speed.




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