Anyone here photograph Hurricane-Spawned Tornadoes?


I have yet to physically see one spawned from a hurricane, but they've touched down close to where I was located in Pamlico County. Now that I'm a home-owner in a typical hurricane area, I think driving around will be left for moments when I'm not more concerned about my house. But I will have my camera ready this year for whichever hurricane hits NC.
Correct me if i need to be corrected, but with the ceiling being less than 1000 feet with hurricane clouds, and also considering the trees and blowi ng wind/rain factor within hurricanes. It is going to be Very hard to see one, much less getting a photo...if i am correct..

The area I'm in would definitely be difficult to spot on oncoming tornado. Just the foliage in the area makes it difficult in itself, and the terrain makes viewing from a distance a little difficult also. Over the next year I'm going to travel to the various small towns and pick out spots on the highways for viewing because of that specific problem. Also considering where those outer bands hit from an approaching hurricane in our area, the highways really don't lend for immediate escape routes so the odds of actually being in a town in time for the outer bands and having a location with a good exit route would really reduce the chances of catching a hurricane spawned tornado, I think anyway. I doubt it's much to see, anyway, probably a very small scale tornado without much of a path to go on. But I'll still be on the lookout from my house.
Hurricane tornadoes

I think it would be very hard to even see a hurricane spawned tornado. I was very close to one last year. It was only about 2 miles away and we had a good view but there was too much rain and we could not see it.

Last year's Isabel, I really didn't have a sight problem due to rain. The thunderstorm that passed through Jacksonville yesterday was worst than any hurricane I've been through as far as visibility. I just wish (during that time of year) that we had fewer trees and flatter plains.
I was out visiting my bro in NC this past weekend ... a storm came up in Greensboro with a nice shelf for a bit and even a choppy wall cloud that lasted for around 10-15 minutes. We were fortunate enough to be in a place where we could get a nice view, but believe me - this is the exception to the rule in NC. The foliage is so thick there that there is no way I'd get caught chasing on the Piedmont. My brother does it occasionally, but more for damage shots. Hurricane-spawned tornadoes are fast and they are tricky because of the cloud motions ... so totally different than supercell-spawned tornadoes that I don't think most chasers have much interest in pursuing them. Best to let them go through and catch the damage after-the-fact. After being so used to the open spaces out here, I really don't see how people can chase in the east, though there are certainly some who do it!
chasing tornadoes

The Greensboro area has fewer plains as opposed to where I am. That's why over the next year I'm going to focus on locations for stopping to chase.
After being so used to the open spaces out here, I really don't see how people can chase in the east, though there are certainly some who do it!

That is what makes it kind of hard to spot /chase in the upstate of the South Carolina. It is almost like you do not go out let them form and do that. You have to watch their avenue of approach, and if they are coming thru the areas of good visibility, then you go and do it. But if they are taking that path of poor visibilty, you just have to do the best that you can. Which usually means going to a school or a shopping centers parking lot, those areas gives you open space so you can see a distance. But lot of times that just isnt feasible. Its frustrating.

That's probably why I consider it such a challenge. On the other hand, too, where I'm located it seems like a storm rolls through like clockwork and sometimes at the same time of the afternoon. So in a way, it almost feels like I'm not chasing at all. It almost seems like no fun at all that maybe one hurricane a season is most likely to make landfall somewhere close by. But I'm not going to complain;) hehe
The contrast would be fairly bad in a hurricane anyway, though, wouldn’t it? And if the majority of hurricane spawned tornadoes are in the NW quadrant — the really bad quad, I think — it’d be pretty risky trying to chase them. Although you could try mini-swirls.[/i]

The only place I could ever really see watching for hurricane spawned tornadoes is from one hitting Texas. But I don't know that area well enough to know if those outer bands survive in the plains areas that provide enough space for viewing.
I think Mike was right on the dot when he said that hurricane-spawned tornadoes would be at best difficult to spot ---they probably are sporatic with no clear path and you're at best putting yourself in danger - especially on the coastal areas here in NC - alot of old straight-away highways that would not give you a good exit path if you end up in the path of one of those tornadoes. As far as hurricane-related tornadoes, I'll just stand outside my house and watch for anything if I happen to get the outer bands next time around. The eye passed too far north of me the last time so I saw nothing of them during Isabel.
Re: hurricanes

The only place I could ever really see watching for hurricane spawned tornadoes is from one hitting Texas.

That’s true — it’s probably not a coincidence that most hurricanes seem to spawn only about 5 to 10 tornadoes, but in Texas it’s 50+ (82 from Gilbert, 1988; 115 from Beulah, 1967). I don’t know how chaseable they are, but I have seen one clear photo of a hurricane-spawned tornado (from hurricane Allen) from there; it’s in Significant Tornadoes.
tornadic hurricanes

I have to say I'm a little thankful that NC does not have a tendency to see alot of tornadoes, but there is a little bar down the road from me that looks like it could withstand quite a force of wind - If we do get the outer bands, that's where I'm joining the hurricane party.
The contrast would be fairly bad in a hurricane anyway, though, wouldn’t it? And if the majority of hurricane spawned tornadoes are in the NW quadrant — the really bad quad, I think — it’d be pretty risky trying to chase them. Although you could try mini-swirls.[/i]

I thought the worst part of a hurricane was the NE quadrant.

Do the Austrailian storms see the NW quadrant as the outer band?
East Timor

Thomas, I know this is off the topic but you don't have an email link and I have a family member traveling to East Timor soon - will you please email me if it is okay for me to ask you a couple of questions about that area?
Carrie, you're right. It's the NE quadrant that's the bad one in the Northern hemisphere. But I think it says in Significant Tornadoes (that has just about all I can find on hurricane-spawned tornadoes) that the NW quadrant is where they all are anyway. In the Southern hemisphere, the outer bands depend on which coast you're on — eastern Queensland and Northern Territory its the SW quadrant (which is the bad one here), and NW Western Australia, W Northern Territory, and W Queensland, it's the SE quadrant. — And on second thought, it's probably the SE quad which is the bad one. Now I've confused myself — damn Coriolis force!! Oh, it's all the "dangerous semicircle" anyway, isn't it?

Oh, and while I've thought of it, there's a short film sequence of a hurricane-spawned tornado (shot by Jim Leonard, no less) from hurricane Agnes (1972), and a video of one of the GIlbert tornadoes near Del Rio, TX in Tornado Video Classics 1.
NE quadrant is the most common - but tornadoes can occur and have been documented to occur in all quadrants. The NE quadrant often shows up in stats because of the tendency for hurricanes to curve in a clockwise fashion (circling around the Bermuda high) prior to landfall. The inflow from off the warm water then is often into the NE section ahead of the hurricane, whereas the western side of the hurricane has air approaching from land, so it is generally more stable. It is within the outer rainbands (often 200 km from the eye) that mini-supercells are favored, generally along to just right of the hurricane track. With intense hurricanes, an increased tendency has been noted for a different type of tornado (in addition to the one above), that tends to form in the NW quadrant of the hurricane, but these types of tornadoes are ussually weak and short-lived. The tendency for hurricanes making landfall in TX to have significant tornado potential has been attributed to dry air entrainment off the MX plateau, I think Lon Curtis recently had a paper in WAF on this. Possible that Eugene McCaul would have some pics of hurricane spawned tornadoes, he's certainly seen lots of landfalling hurricanes and is an expert in hurricane spawned tornadoes.

While I've never chased hurricane tornadoes, I don't think it would be that bad with a good nowcaster (little chance to 'go visual' in the hurricane environment) - as the rainbands tend to not move all that fast, whereas the cells within the bands do. If you found an active band, you could probably stick with it for some time and just hope a cell is tornadic as it passes by (over open country of course).


Thank you, Glen - that's why I wish I would have started studying the weather a long time ago!!
Different Diections

It would depend on the hurricane' direction. If it was coming W towards FL at a speed of 20 mph with sustained winds of 120 mph, the NW quadrant of the hurricane would pose the greatest dangers. Winds would be up to 140+ mph and the outer bands would have the greatest thunderstorm and tornado threats.

On the other hand, if it was heading N towards New Orleans at the same fore-mentioned speeds, the NE quadrant would be your greatest threats.

Of course, if you were right in the middle of one, it doesn't matter which way the winds are coming from!!

Wind direction

The only time the direction of wind has mattered to me is when I'm opening windows to allow a little breeze through the house. I open the windows on the opposite side of the house from the direction of the wind, and then change sides when the direction changes - not because of pressure, but just to have a nice gust inside and be able to listen to what's going on outside.
Visibility in Isabel's enviromnent was low all day on the day of landfall. In fact, cloud bases, types and features were not visible at all except when the eye passed overhead. The whole day it was just a diffuse whiteout in the sky, like a fog - you couldn't even tell where the cloud base was, if there was one.

You might have been able to see cloud features in the outer rain bands, but they moved through overnight prior to landfall.

I had no problems with visibility, but then on the other hand, I was on the South side of the eyewall so I think we just did not see as much rain as you did, Dan. What part of Virginia were you located in during Isabel?
We started out in Virginia Beach early in the morning, and drifted south to the Williamston-Winton-Windsor areas by midday.