Can Tornadoes Cause Floods? (Let’s Find Out)

can tornadoes cause floods

Tornadoes are notorious for being some of the most dangerous natural weather events on Earth, often causing massive destruction and leaving communities devastated after they pass.

But it’s not just the violently rotating vortex and incredibly high wind speeds that cause the damage.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at another way tornadoes cause destruction, and answer a question that often comes up when discussing these weather events. Can tornadoes cause floods?

In short, yes, tornadoes can certainly cause floods. There are many examples where tornadoes have caused flash floods that have devastated properties, communities and even taken lives.

Let’s take a closer look…

Do Tornadoes Cause Floods?

Tornadoes often bring an array of extreme weather with them, from high wind speeds to hail the size of golf balls and everything in between.

They have been known to cause severe flash floods which can occur in a matter of minutes due to excess rainfall that the tornado has carried with it on its path.

These floods can devastate homes, wash away belongings, and also come with the risk of being caught out in the flood and potentially drowning.

A tornado that brings a flood with it is incredibly dangerous and much more dangerous than either weather event by itself.

Flash floods from tornadoes can happen in an instant, they can wash quite easily catch people off guard and end up washing people away.

Many people fail to realize the threat of flood warnings when coupled with a tornado, but when the two strike together they are compounded.

Why Are Floods From A Tornado Dangerous?

A tornado is a terrifying event on its own, but when coupled with a flash flood the scenario gets a whole lot more dangerous.

One reason for this is that the procedures recommended for dealing with each event are contradictory.

The advice during a tornado is to seek shelter in the lowest central room of a building, ideally in a bunker in the basement of your home.

However, flood protocol is to move to higher ground such as on hills or mountainsides. Those conflicting instructions can cause confusion and panic when these events strike.

Another reason why floods and tornadoes simultaneously are extremely dangerous is that the circumstances that lead to such events challenge operation forecasters.

The warning signs of a tornado are not typically the same as for a flood. This means that oftentimes a flood can come unexpectedly and catch people off-guard, leaving them to panic and take the wrong action.

Flash floods that come seemingly out of nowhere can roll boulders, collapse bridges, tear trees out from the ground and wash away belongings or even people.

The two events compound on each other and are incredibly dangerous to be caught up in.

How Do Tornadoes Cause Floods?

Tornados come from some of the most severe thunderstorms on the planet. They are known as supercells which are characterized by a mesocyclone, but they often bring heavy rain, hail as well as thunder and lightning.

The hail that comes from these storms can be the size of golf balls, causing destruction to vehicles, property, and livestock in its path.

The intense rainfall that can sometimes occur with a supercell storm is more than capable of causing a flash flood.

Supercell storms can last for hours, bringing torrential rain, incredibly strong winds, and even tornadoes with them.

Tornadoes can also cross over rivers, harbors, and other bodies of water whilst picking up a lot of water which can add to the flood.

In a matter of minutes, an area can be completely flooded due to the torrential rain of a supercell storm as well as a tornado passing through.

Do Tornadoes Bring Heavy Rain?

Whilst tornadoes do not always come with rain, it is usually raining when a tornado strikes due to the large supercell storm that is above and spawns the tornado.

Oftentimes you’ll see heavy rain both before and after a tornado, along with severe hail, strong winds, and thunder.

The rain that usually comes with a tornado is torrential, enough to cause flash floods in a matter of minutes and cause those caught out in it to seek immediate shelter.

Are Floods From Tornadoes Severe?

The floods that come along with some tornadoes can be incredibly severe. In fact, floods actually kill more people in the United States than tornadoes each year.

This often happens due to water levels rising rapidly, faster than the ground can absorb it – leaving roads, paths, and buildings completely ruined.

The most obvious risk during a flash flood is drowning but also having debris wash into you underwater can result in serious injury.

Not only that, but trees and buildings can topple during a flash flood, and if this happens unexpectedly you could find yourself trapped whilst the water levels continue to rise.

Whilst not all tornadoes are likely to be accompanied by a flood, the ones that do are very dangerous and should not be taken lightly.

In the event of either one of these events try to seek shelter immediately, preferably in a basement or a designated storm shelter.

Final Thoughts

Tornadoes are some of the most dangerous natural weather events to happen on planet earth, often causing millions in damage and leaving communities in tatters.

Can tornadoes cause floods? Absolutely they can. Tornadoes are formed through a powerful storm known as a supercell, which often brings with it torrential rain, hail, strong winds, and more.

The combination of both a tornado and a flood is incredibly dangerous. Much more so than either event on its own due to the risks compounding.

Often the reason why many people find themselves injured during this combination is due to the recommended procedures contradicting one another.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this post today and have learned why both tornadoes and floods are highly dangerous events.

See you next time!

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