Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic storm surge and high winds weren’t the only impacts produced by the Category 4 storm along the eastern U.S., tornadoes accompanied many of the initial bands, which were responsible for significant damage.
The combination of instability from daytime heating, wind shear and the natural spin from the tropical cyclone caused National Weather Service offices to issue 70 Tornado Warnings from Florida to North Carolina.
Many of the areas that saw tornadic activity found themselves in the right front quadrant of the storm, an area notorious for tornadic activity, especially in landfalling cyclones along the Gulf Coast.
While the exact amount of twisters may never be known, meteorologists believe more than a dozen touched down from extreme South Florida to coastal North Carolina, with the possibility of more being added to the initial count.
Tornadoes were responsible for flipping planes at a Broward County airport, ripping a roof off a condominium building in Palm Beach County and damaging dozens of other structures.
Despite the appearance of continual warnings, the amount of confirmed tornadoes pales in comparison to hurricanes such as Frances and Ivan, which are thought to have produced more than 100 tornadoes each.
Hurricane Ivan in 2004 holds the record for producing the most tornadoes by any U.S. landfalling cyclone. The NWS reports the Category 3 storm spawned 120 tornadoes across the South.
In many of the tropical cyclones, the tornadoes remain weak and are difficult to spot because of how they are positioned in rain bands.
Many of the tornadoes produced during hurricanes end up being classified as an EF-0, EF-1 or EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
These tornadoes have wind speeds of less than 136 mph and can do considerable damage.
If the atmospheric conditions are prime, occasionally, a hurricane can produce an EF-3 twister.
Of the 120 tornadoes produced during Ivan, only one was an EF-3 and occurred as the storm’s remnants impacted Virginia, several hours after the hurricane’s Florida landfall.
As for Ian’s recent tornado outbreak, the NWS only reported two initial injuries from the twisters and no fatalities.
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