Hurricane Dorian is cranking up tornadoes along the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts – USA TODAY
Hurricane Dorian triggered a tornado in North Carolina
At least 10 tornadoes have been reported in South Carolina and North Carolina over the past day as Hurricane Dorian approached, adding another layer of worrisome weather to nervous residents along both coasts.
Nils Regnell said a tornado spotted in Little River, South Carolina, on Thursday sounded like a train was running right past his home for about three minutes as the twister blitzed by. The tornado snapped oak trees, ripped off roofing and even lifted a car, leaving it five houses down the street atop a utility box right next door to Regnell.
Several other tornadoes were also reported in Onslow County, North Carolina.
Tornadoes like the ones that hit the Carolinas on Thursday aren’t an uncommon sight during hurricanes: Almost all hurricanes and tropical storms that make landfall in the United States spawn at least one tornado, provided enough of the storm’s circulation moves over land, according to NOAA,
Hurricanes and tropical storms offer all the elements to spawn tornadoes, as they carry small, spinning supercells inside their outer bands, which are thunderstorms that can form twisters, Live Science says.
The latest update: Where is Hurricane Dorian now? And where is it headed?
Tornadoes spawned by tropical cyclones are also known to develop very suddenly and be very transient in nature, the Capital Weather Gang said. They’re also usually tough to see because of low cloud bases in hurricanes.
Fueled from warm, moist ocean air, hurricanes, with their strong wind shear near the ground, can create an unstable atmosphere when they make landfall, and their swirling vortices can sometimes flip vertically into funnels.
Gulf Coast states tend to have the most frequent and significant hurricane tornado events, NOAA said, partly because of their tendency to have at least one state fully exposed to the right-front quadrant of the hurricane when landfall occurs there
The right-front quadrant of hurricanes contain the necessary ingredients for tornadoes to form.
Although hurricanes can spawn tornadoes up to about three days after landfall, statistics show that most of the tornadoes occur on the day of landfall, or the next day, NOAA said.
The worst tornado outbreak occurred during 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, which caused a multi-day outbreak of 127 tornadoes. The deadliest hurricane-spawned tornado was in October 1964, when 22 people died in Larose, Louisiana, during a twister from Hurricane Hilda.
On Thursday, Brenda Johnson, who was at her house on Retreat Place in Little River when the tornado hit, said it lasted for about three minutes. She hid in the closet, in the middle of her home. “It was so scary,” she said. “I have never been through anything like that and I won’t stay here ever again” during a hurricane.
Tornado watches remained in place for all coastal regions in both states as additional twisters are likely all day, the Storm Prediction Center said.
Contributing: Carol Motsinger, the Greenville (S.C.) News