Do Tornadoes Have Names? (Informative Guide)

do tornadoes have names

Tornadoes are vicious, violent, and incredibly destructive. They often whip up out of seemingly nowhere and cause an immense amount of damage before dissipating into thin air.

If you’ve ever been up close and personal with a tornado, then you’ll know how scary these natural events can be.

They have the deafening sound of a freight train and are hurtling around debris at an alarming speed. The only protection from a raging tornado is to get down into your basement and hide until it passes.

Today, we’re going to take a look at tornadoes and specifically answer a question that often comes up when discussing them. Do tornadoes have names?

No, whilst tornadoes do not have names like hurricanes and tropical typhoons, they are often referred to by their nearest city or one to which they have caused the most damage.

Do Tornadoes Really Have Names?

Residents that live in the region where a tornado has hit have no real reference point to remember the tornado aside from the destruction it caused.

This is because tornadoes do not have names like tropical storms do. Most people remember hurricanes because they have names such as Rita, Camille, Andrew, and Michael.

So why don’t tornadoes have names too?

Well, one of the reasons that tornadoes are not named by the World Meteorological Organization is that there are simply too many tornadoes and not enough names.

In the United States alone there are around 1200 tornadoes each year, so naming all of these would become an incredibly time-intensive and difficult task.

With that said, not every tornado should be named, many of the tornadoes that occur in the US are small and last only a matter of seconds and therefore would not warrant a name.

Do Any Weather Events Have Names?

In the United States, tropical storms and hurricanes are the only weather events to have the luxury of receiving their own names.

Hurricane Katrina, Delta, Sandy, Harvey, Hugo, and Mitch are all some examples of names given to hurricanes.

Blizzards, thunderstorms, and floods are not as special and are not given a name to be remembered.

Why Are Hurricanes Given Names?

Even hurricanes have not always been given names, but over time its become a necessity to track and log each hurricane through the use of a name.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the latitude and longitude of a storm’s position is used to determine the name it should be given.

Naming a hurricane by its coordinates would be incredibly hard to remember, so instead, the World Meteorological Organization tried using names.

One of the main reasons for this is that using names for hurricanes is much more memorable, and makes it easier for news outlets to report.

Originally hurricanes were tracked by year and order in which they occurred, for example, the first-named hurricane in the US was called ‘Able’, but before this, they would be called ‘hurricane 1’ and ‘hurricane 2’ etc.

What Are The Names Of All Tornadoes?

Whilst tornadoes are not given names in the sense that hurricanes and tropical storms are, there are different types of tornadoes that you may not be aware of.

Below are the five types of tornadoes that occur:

Rope Tornado

The rope tornado is one of the smallest and most common types of tornadoes to occur.

Often having a slim, rope-like appearance that is easily distinguishable. Many rope tornadoes that are seen are at the start of their life cycle or nearing the end when they are losing power.

Whilst rope tornadoes may not look as dangerous as some of the other tornadoes, they can still generate strong wind speeds and cause a surprising amount of damage.

Cone Tornado

Cone tornadoes are the most iconic types of tornadoes. Oftentimes when you think of a tornado ripping through the landscape, a cone tornado is what comes to mind.

This is because a cone tornado is in the shape of a cone, narrow toward the ground and then beefing out towards the clouds.

These tornadoes can be highly dangerous as their paths tend to be wider than rope tornadoes.

Wedge Tornado

Wedge tornadoes are some of the most violent and dangerous types of tornadoes. They are given this name because they are often wider than they are in height.

They will be attached to a giant supercell thunderstorm and leave a large trail of destruction on their path.

These are usually major tornadoes that can be multiple miles wide and travel at alarming speeds.

Multi-vortex Tornado

Supercell thunderstorms are some of the most powerful storms that happen on earth, and they’re also the storms that tornadoes form under.

Multi-vortex tornadoes are exactly what it says on the tin. They are supercell storms that have multiple twisters under them.

These often occur much like multiple rope tornadoes, but only two are more dangerous than one.


Waterspouts are types of tornadoes that can occur without a thunderstorm, however, they’re not technically tornadoes unless they reach land.

Whilst some waterspouts develop the same way tornadoes do, many occur through regular clouds and they are more common than tornadoes.

Despite not being as dangerous or powerful as some tornadoes, they can be strong enough to overturn boats and create rough seas.

Names Of Famous Tornadoes

Whilst tornadoes don’t quite make the cut when it comes to being given a short, easy-to-communicate name as hurricanes do, sometimes famous tornadoes can be given a name.

For example, one of the deadliest tornadoes ever to hit the United States is known as the ‘Tri-state tornado’.

This monster tornado outbreak formed on March 18th, 1925 and generated at least 12 significant tornadoes, and spanned a large portion of the midwest and the Southern United States.

The reason this tornado was given a name is that it tore across multiple states. Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, and Southwest Indiana were all hit.

This tornado killed hundreds of people and injured thousands, it caused over $1 billion in damages and will never be forgotten, therefore it rightfully deserves a memorable name.

Final Thoughts

Do tornadoes have names? No, for the most part, only hurricanes and tropical storms are given names to make it easier to communicate between meteorologists and the public.

That said, some tornadoes such as the Tri-state tornado were so big and left such a big impact on the United States that it was given a short, memorable name.

Names make it easier for scientists to keep track of, and they also make it easier for media outlets to report on them.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve learned something new today about tornadoes and why they are not given names.

If you have enjoyed this article, feel free to stick around to learn more about tornadoes and the many other types of extreme weather that we discuss here.

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