The Difference Between Downburst and Tornado Damage

Damage is one of the unfortunate outcomes of storms. In some cases, it is not always obvious whether or not a downburst or a tornado occured. In other cases, damage patterns make it quite clear as to what event caused the destruction.

Air flow converges into a tornado, therefore debris points inward along the path. Debris patterns associated with a tornado can also be circular. An example of a damage pattern associated with a tornado is shown below.


Tornado Damage

Downbursts, sometimes called straight line winds, also cause significant damage. The debris pattern associated with a downburst is quite different from that of a tornado. Instead of a circular pattern, the damage pattern is highly divergent. Below is a look at what a damage pattern associated with a downburst might look like.


Downburst Damage

By studying the debris patterns, meteorologists can better determine what caused the damage associated with a storm. This can help them to understand storms to a greater extent and provide more accurate warnings in the future.

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