How does the damage from hurricanes compare to that of tornadoes?

PDF versionPDF version
A middle school is left in a mangled heap after a June 11 F-3 tornado ripped through Chapman, Kansas. Image Credit: Photo by Anita Westervelt/FEMA
Information on this page was collected from the source acknowledged below:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration FAQs:

"Contributed by Roger Edwards, Storm Prediction Center:

The differences are in scale. Even though winds from the strongest tornadoes far exceed that from the strongest hurricanes, hurricanes typically cause much more damage individually and over a season, and over far bigger areas. Economically, tornadoes cause about a tenth as much damage per year, on average, as hurricanes. Hurricanes tend to cause much more overall destruction than tornadoes because of their much larger size, longer duration and their greater variety of ways to damage property. The destructive core in hurricanes can be tens of miles across, last many hours and damage structures through storm surge and rainfall-caused flooding, as well as from wind. Tornadoes, in contrast, tend to be a few hundred yards in diameter, last for minutes and primarily cause damage from their extreme winds."

Learn More

  • Storm Events Database (Webpage and Database), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    This resource compiles information on fatalities, injuries, and damages caused by severe weather events. These data are also described in the monthly publication, Storm Data, available here
  • Weather Fatality, Injury, and Damage Statistics (Webpage and Database), National Weather Service
    Simple statistics factsheets compiled from Storm Data, (see above). Note: a significant proportion of the fatalities, injuries, and damages associated with tropical cyclones, the class of storm systems that includes hurricanes and tropical storms, are often reported in other categories, e.g. flood and wind.