TAMPA, FL, August 22, 2011 — All eyes are on Hurricane Irene, and concerns about where that storm makes landfall may divert attention from other winds that blow as hurricanes approach. Hurricanes and tropical storms produce tornadoes because thunderstorms are embedded in rain bands that are far from the center of the hurricane, although tornadoes can also occur near the eyewall. Hurricanes spawn tornadoes, and data seems to show that the tendency toward tornadoes has increased. Usually, tornadoes produced by a hurricane are relatively weak and short-lived, but still pose a threat.

Tropical Storm Fay in 2008 was responsible for at least 49 tornadoes as it traversed Florida and other Southern states, three of which were rated with winds as powerful as a Category 3 hurricane. Because Gulf coast states are more fully exposed to the right-front quadrant of a tropical cyclone when it hits land, they are more likely to experience tornadoes than the Atlantic coast. The largest known outbreak of tropical cyclone tornadoes was caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, with 127 tornadoes forming over a three-day period, according to data collected by The Tornado Project of the Universities Space Research Association. Eighteen of those tornadoes impacted Florida, and Ivan-caused tornadoes struck areas as far north as Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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