A Comprehensive Comparison of Tsunamis and Hurricanes

Tsunamis and hurricanes are natural disasters that wreak havoc on numerous coastal communities across the world. Both of these occurrences can be found in the oceans and seas. As a result, people may struggle to appreciate the Tsunami vs. Hurricane analogy. The discussion that follows will attempt to clarify this.

Despite the fact that both disasters include massive bodies of water, the causes, nature, impact, and management of the two are vastly different. The major distinction is that one is a wave sequence and the other is a storm system.

Understanding the distinction between the two is a must for any concerned citizen in any country. So keep reading to learn more about these disasters.

What is a Tsunami, exactly?

A Tsunami is a vast body of water that is hit by a series of waves. Tsunamis, unlike other waves, are not caused by the gravitational attraction of celestial bodies. Instead, it occurs when the volume of water at the ocean’s bottom suddenly changes.

Tsunami is a Japanese phrase that means “great wave.” ‘Harbour Wave’ is a crude translation. Tsunamis have struck Indonesia (2018), Japan (2011), and Chile recently (2010).

The Tsunami in the Indian Ocean was the most destructive in modern history. In the Bay Area, it took the lives of over 200,000 people. In addition, there have been several injuries and property and business destruction. A total of 9.4 billion dollars was lost in the impacted countries’ economies.

Tsunami Factors

Tsunamis can be caused by both natural and man-made events. Because all it takes is a big amount of water to be displaced beneath the sea. And the chances of it happening are just as high for an earthquake as they are for a man-made explosion. During World War II, there was even an attempt to develop a Tsunami Bomb.

A total Tsunami, on the other hand, is still a work of fiction. Even if a sequence of undersea explosives were to detonate, the resulting tidal wave would be nothing compared to natural Tsunamis.

Underwater earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, or an asteroid or meteorite striking the ocean are the four main natural causes of tsunamis. The final cause is a hypothesis. It’s quite improbable to occur. And if it does, the consequences will be disastrous.

The Tsunami’s Mechanism

Tsunamis can occur when an earthquake’s epicentre or fault line is on or near the ocean floor. Tectonic earthquakes are the most common type. That is, they are linked to the earth’s crustal deformation.

A 7.5 Richter earthquake under the water will have an influence on the seafloor for thousands of miles. In some locations, it will result in malformation. As a result, the seawater is pushed out of its natural balance.

Gravity, on the other hand, pulls on the displaced water and seeks to return it to its original position. As a result of all of this, the water column is moving vertically. Tsunami waves are generated as a result of this action.

Tsunamis are caused by massive volumes of water being displaced by landslides, rockfalls, and icefalls. Aside from these, a Tsunami that causes Landslides can also be caused by man-made factors.

In the 1980s, a similar tragedy occurred in Thebes’ harbour. The construction of an airport runway in the coastal area of Southern France was underway, and the effort resulted in an unintentional underwater landslide.

Tsunami Mitigation Techniques

Tsunamis are a natural occurrence that we cannot prevent. Because the earth’s tectonic plates are constantly shifting.

And some of those movements will continue to cause Tsunamis on occasion. However, certain procedures can be taken to ensure that no lives are lost while also minimising economic losses.

First and foremost, we must construct our structures as far away from the danger zone as feasible. The most efficient strategy to reduce the number of deaths is to identify dangerous areas and avoid them entirely.

Second, berms are effective in slowing down enormous waves by establishing woods, digging ditches, and erecting slopes. Paved roads and inclined walls strategically placed can let you guide the income water in a specified path, giving you more control over the Tsunami’s overall effect.

What is the definition of a hurricane?

A hurricane is defined as a tropical storm with winds of more than 63 knots. A hurricane is around 500 miles wide and ten miles tall on average. It travels at a pace of 17 knots most of the time. If the spinning winds are less than 63 knots, the storm is classified as a tropical storm rather than a hurricane.

Hurricanes are the name given to tropical storms that form in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Northeast Pacific Ocean. These storms are known as cyclones in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific. Typhoons are what they’re called in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

All of these tropical storms have a low-pressure centre. Around this centre, a rotating column of air revolves. Strong destructive winds and heavy rains result from the low-pressure system.

Hurricane-Resistant Ingredients

When three things happen at the same time, a hurricane is formed. The temperature is the first. It is necessary to have a minimum sea surface temperature of 80 degrees. The warm weather gives the moisture needed to strengthen the storm.

Second, there needs to be a low-pressure zone. It’s also possible that it’s an area that’s already been skewed. Finally, the hurricane need a light vertical wind gradient to stand tall and combat oncoming powerful winds.

What Causes a Hurricane to Form?

Warm damp forms over the water when the sea surface temperature exceeds eighty degrees. And because it’s warm, the air rises. This results in a vacancy. As a result, cold air rushes in to fill the hole.

This air eventually warms up and rises with it. Meanwhile, fresh air arrives to take its place. This process will go on for a while.

Large clouds and thunderstorms arise as a result of this. The storms are intensifying. And, as they expand, they begin to rotate due to the earth’s Coriolis Effect. The eye refers to the area around which storms rotate. This is a falling air area, and the highest winds are found outside the immediate wall of air.

Hurricane Katrina Preparedness

When a hurricane is approaching your area, the first thing you should do is put together a disaster bag. Water, dried meals, flashlights, and medical supplies should all be included in the kit.

You should also write down vital phone numbers and contact information on paper in case you are unable to charge your phone.

When a hurricane is likely to approach your area, local authorities will usually issue instructions on “what to do” and “where to go.” Make sure you’re up to current on their instructions. Also, don’t be afraid to relocate to one of the recommended shelters.

Take all crucial documents, such as passports, identification cards, and wills, with you when you leave.

A Comparison of Tsunamis and Hurricanes

The main distinction between them is most likely what they are. Tsunamis are a sequence of waves that occur in the ocean. A hurricane, on the other hand, is a whirling column of air. This is the most significant distinction between the two. The first is a wave, while the second is a storm.

There’s also a significant difference in the causes of these calamities. Tsunamis are triggered by underwater earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It has nothing to do with wind or temperature. Furthermore, the source of the problem lies on the bottom or deep underwater.

A hurricane, on the other hand, is frequently caused by a storm at sea. It has essentially little to do with changes in water volume or tectonic wave action. The occurrence of a hurricane is determined by temperature changes and wind forces.

Tsunamis, unlike hurricanes, do not have a set season. Hurricanes are particularly common during the summer months. In every hurricane-prone region, there is a specific time of year when the storms rise in frequency.

Tsunamis, on the other hand, are neither a yearly or seasonal occurrence. It doesn’t follow a set pattern, and major Tsunamis only occur every few years. Another significant distinction between the two is this. Tsunamis are significantly more unpredictable than hurricanes.

Finally, there is a fundamental difference in how these two tragedies are managed and planned. When it comes to a Tsunami, the preparation begins with the construction of the city. Hurricane preparedness begins only when hurricane season approaches or when a weather forecast is available.

If your city is in a Tsunami-prone area, all roads, pavements, fences, and buildings must be planned so that you can stay clear of the ocean when the wave strikes.

On the other hand, hurricane preparation does not always begin with the construction of the city. And, rather than water damage, the management strategy is more concerned with wind impacts.

As a result, the most important component of Hurricane preparation is pruning down branches and removing sharp and pointy structures that are strewn about.


Understanding the difference between a tsunami and a hurricane is critical for any concerned person. Because, for the most part, these occurrences are beyond our control. However, a thorough understanding can aid us in minimising the harm and taking appropriate measures to avoid the loss of a single life and life-altering consequences.

I hope you find the information in this post useful, and please share it with your family and friends.

Good luck with your studies!!

Read more: Molecular Structure, Bonding, and Polarity of MgO Lewis Structure

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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