Derecho vs Tornado: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Formation and Nature: Derechos are widespread windstorms with straight-line winds, while tornadoes are narrow, rotating columns of air.
  2. Damage and Impact: Derechos cause widespread damage along their path, while tornadoes produce concentrated and localized destruction.
  3. Forecasting and Warning: Derechos are more challenging to predict accurately, while tornadoes have more advanced warning systems.

What is Derecho?

Derecho is characterized as a windstorm associated with fast-moving showers and thunderstorms. They can produce massive winds that go up to 100 miles per hour, so they are sometimes mistaken to be a hurricane. Derecho occurs mainly in parts of the United States but is most common in the Great Lakes and Midwest.


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The damage caused by the Derecho is quite extensive; it destroys buildings and trees. This is because a Derecho is difficult to predict and thus comes with short warning times. “Derecho” comes from the Spanish dictionary and means “straight ahead.” In other words, it means that a Derecho’s winds are straight in appearance.

A Derecho is mainly associated with lightning, hail, and heavy rain. The occurrence of a Derecho is primarily in the summer season, and it is thus advised to prepare for the calamity in advance as it is difficult to predict.

What is Tornado?

A tornado is characterized as one of the other natural calamities that cause enormous destruction after. It is said to be a continuous column of air that starts with a thunderstorm and extends to the ground. A tornado can be identified by its funnel shape, also known as a “twister.”

A tornado grows larger and larger with time when twisting or hurling. A tornado takes up to a speed of 300 miles per hour and can result in catastrophic destruction. They are most commonly found in the southern and central parts of the United States.

A tornado is comparatively easier to predict than a Derecho; thus, massive destruction can be prevented. The people are displaced from the affected area to limit the calamity. People are advised to have a plan for shelter and should be attentive to the warnings and alerts issued.

Difference Between Derecho and Tornado

  1. A Derecho is said to be a widespread thunderstorm that is associated with fast-moving showers and thunderstorms. In contrast, a tornado is a continuous column of air that starts with a thunderstorm and extends to the ground.
  2. A Derecho appears to be like straight-line winds, which is why it is often mistaken as a hurricane, while in contrast, a tornado seems to have rotating winds.
  3. The size of a Derecho can go up to hundreds of miles, and they remain for hours while, on the other hand, a tornado has a height of up to a few hundred yards and lasts up to a few minutes.
  4. An approximate speed of a Derecho is expected to be 100 mph or more, while, on the other hand, an approximate speed of a tornado can go up to 300 mph or more.
  5. It is quite tricky for the meteorological department to predict a Derecho whereas, a tornado can be sometimes expected before coming.
  6. A Derecho commonly occurs during summer, while a tornado appears in the spring or early summer.

Comparison Between Derecho and Tornado

Parameter of ComparisonDerechoTornado
DefinitionIt is a widespread thunderstorm that is associated with fast-moving showers and thunderstormsIt is a continuous column of air that starts from a thunderstorm and goes to the ground
AppearanceStraight line windsRotating winds
SizeHundreds of miles and are for hoursHundreds of yards and are only for a few minutes
Speed100 mph or more300 mph or more
OccurrenceIn summerIn spring or early summer
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