Severe thunderstorms vs tornadoes: Which can cause more damage?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When tornado sirens blare as a warning, most people take them seriously and take cover. But when we sound the alarm on a severe thunderstorm warning, the level of urgency drops.

Don't let your guard down. Severe thunderstorms will impact more people and cause just as much damage as an average tornado.

In fact, data from the National Severe Storms Laboratory reveals damage from severe thunderstorm winds is more common than damage from tornadoes.

A line of thunderstorms can range in length from about 20 miles to 500 miles. It can also travel for hundreds of miles resulting in damage beyond belief: downed trees and power lines, flash flooding and possibly dropping a tornado.

Damage from these types of storms can average 100,000 square miles.

The average width of a tornado is 400 yards, with the average path length of 26 miles. A tornado, on average, wreaks havoc on about 6 square miles.

While tornadoes are destructive, do not let your guard down when we say a line of thunderstorms is on the way and a severe thunderstorm warning is in effect.

See more stories from Surviving the Storm

---

Print this article Back to Top