How Long Does A Tornado Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 10 Minutes On Average

A tornado is a calamity that can happen in any part of the world. When a column of air violently rotates while connecting both the earth and the clouds, it is said to be a tornado. There are other names for the tornado, such as a twister, cyclone, or even a whirlwind.

Formed from large thunderstorm supercells, a tornado looks like a funnel. A tornado almost always moves from one place to another while rotating violently. Tornadoes can come in different shapes or sizes. Plus, the time for which a tornado will stay is never specific.

How Long Does A Tornado Last

How Long Does A Tornado Last?

A natural calamity is always unpredictable in all its form. It implies it can never be accurately forecasted as to when a natural calamity like a flood, lightning, or tornado can happen. Likewise, it is complicated to forecast the length of time for which a tornado will last.

In the past, there have been many tornados that were touch and go. It means it lasted hardly for a few seconds before moving on to somewhere else. Meanwhile, there have been some infamous tornados that lasted for more than three hours.

The time length for which a tornado can last will depend on an array of things like the speed at which it came, the shape, and also the size. Tornados that come with a speed of 150 miles per hour to 300 miles per hour can easily last for more than two hours.

Tornados that are smaller in shape or are not massive can disappear after several minutes.

PeriodThe time for which a tornado will last
Minimum timeA few seconds
Maximum timeMore than two to three hours

Why Does A Tornado Last That Long?

A tornado does not have a specific period for how long it will last. There are many reasons why a tornado might last from seconds to hours. The reasons are as follows:

  • The main reason a tornado will last that long is the type of tornado. Some tornados tend to have more intensity than other tornados. Since there are several types of tornados, the tornados can range from small tornados to big tornados. Hence, the range also varies in terms of the time the tornado will last for.
  • A tornado forms or moves violently when the hot and humid air mixes with the cool and dry air. It creates a vortex where the wind starts to rotate in circles in a very turbulent way. The more the imbalance between the hot and humid air and the cool dry air, the more violent the tornado will be.
  • When there is a vast difference in pressure, the speed of the wind increases. As the wind is at a great speed, it can cause the tornado to be really big and strong. It is also a reason why the tornado will last for a very long time.
  • Similarly, when the difference in the pressure is less, the speed of the wind will also be less leading to the tornado being of less strength, and hence will last for a comparatively lesser time.
  • Weather can also be a big determining factor for the length of time for which the tornados will last. Tornados happen in the spring and summer months. Since the occurrence of the tornado is more, the time for which these tornados will last is more than the tornados that happen in any other season.
  • A region can also be a factor in the occurrence of a tornado. Some regions like the east of the rocky mountains or the great plain normally see more tornados than other regions. As thesee regions have the perfect environment for a tornado, the time is also more when it comes to how long the tornado will last.


There are various ways to check how severe a tornado is. Tornados can be measured in scales like the Fujita scale, Enhanced Fujita scale, and the TORRO scale. These scales will determine the strength of a specific tornado.

Knowing the strength of the tornado will help to forecast an approximate time for which the tornado will last. It has been found over decades of research that the average time for which a tornado can last is about 10 minutes.


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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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