With the impacts of Hurricane Ian starting to affect the Florida peninsula, there have been tornado watches and warnings issued for the coast and the center of Florida. This is a common phenomenon when a hurricane is close to making landfall.
So, why do tornadoes form when hurricanes make landfall?
Well, one of the main reasons is friction.
According to the University of Wisconsin, a hurricane occurs over water, and there is nothing stopping it. No land mass, no structures, and no vegetation to slow the winds down at the surface. Both winds high up in the storm, as well as down at the surface, are the same when a hurricane is over water.
But, when the outer bands of a hurricane reach land, the winds at the surface are now bouncing off of objects, trees, land masses, and other objects slowing the wind down, the university said.
Winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere, however, are remaining the same. These changes in wind speed at different levels of the atmosphere are one of the reasons tornadoes form during a landfilling hurricane.
Meteorologists study hurricanes by dividing the storm up into four quadrants. The right front quadrant of the storm is the area where the most tornadoes form, due to it usually being the first part of the system that makes landfall, causing the most wind and wind shear.
Hurrican-spawned tornadoes are usually wrapped in rain and are hard to see. But most hurricanes produce weak tornadoes between the EF-0 and EF-1 ratings,
While the actual hurricane remains the primary safety concern, these smaller tornados can cause additional problems.