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Ask the Met: Hurricanes & Tornadoes

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ASK THE METEOROLOGIST

“Do tornadoes and hurricanes turn the same way?”

Chris Baker, Grants Pass

For the most part, yes …hurricanes and tornadoes do spin the same way! Of course there always has to be a but and there is an exception to this “yes.” All hurricanes that are north of the equator spin counterclockwise. This will always be the case.

When it comes to tornadoes though, most of the time the spin will be counterclockwise — the same as hurricanes. However, it is possible to have clockwise spinning tornadoes. This just happens to be very rare across the Northern Hemisphere.

One of the reasons for this direction of spinning is the Coriolis force …the force that is generated from the earth’s spinning. North of the equator, the Coriolis force will deflect weather systems to the right while south of the equator this deflection is opposite (to the left). This means all the rules above are opposite as well! Hurricanes spin clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (as opposed to counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere) and most tornadoes spin clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere as well.

Meteorologist Alyssa Caroprese