A recent study showed that Americans are more afraid of earthquakes than any other natural disaster. This might force one to think about whether they are right in doing so, especially since the number of tornadoes is rising. So, are tornadoes or earthquakes more dangerous?

While it’s true that tornadoes have caused more deaths and injuries than earthquakes, the kind of damage these two natural disasters can cause is not comparable since it is of different kinds and based on many factors.

Keep reading below for more information.

Are Tornadoes or Earthquakes More Dangerous?

Before we compare them, let’s look at how these two natural catastrophes operate.


A cumulonimbus (or, in rare instances, a cumulus) cloud base and the earth’s surface must be in touch for a column of air to be considered a tornado. Although tornadoes come in various sizes, they often have the shape of a visible condensation cone, with the larger end reaching the clouds and the earth’s surface at the narrow end. 

It is commonly mentioned that a cloud of debris also surrounds the lowest part of the funnel.

For more information about tornadoes, watch this video below:

Tornadoes 101 | National Geographic


An earthquake is a type of natural catastrophe brought on by the abrupt release of energy from the Earth’s crust. Seismic waves are produced as a result of this energy. A seismometer creates a seismograph, which is used to detect earthquakes. 

The general public may often sense an earthquake’s impact when they feel the ground shake or move.

Impact of Earthquakes

An earthquake in the water might sometimes trigger tsunamis, which can inflict death and property damage. On December 26, 2004, an Indian Ocean tsunami caused by one of the most recent earthquakes also killed several people. Generally, it may be argued that when tectonic plates become trapped and exert pressure on the ground, an earthquake is an outcome. Further, this strain increases to the point where rocks give way along fault planes by breaking and sliding.

There is enough evidence from scientific investigations to conclude that earthquakes can happen either naturally or as a result of human activity. It is also claimed that occasionally, smaller earthquakes may also be caused by volcanic activity. 

Earthquakes may also be caused by human activity like mine explosions and nuclear testing. The focus, or hypocenter, of an earthquake, is where it truly starts, and the location on the ground directly above the hypocenter is known as the epicenter.

Impact of Tornadoes

The greatest risks that tornadoes pose to the environment come from their impact on human activity. A garbage storage or treatment facility might sustain damage from a tornado, contaminating the region around it. 

Alternatively, a chemical facility might be breached, releasing dangerous substances into the groundwater. We couldn’t discover any evidence of a tornado causing a toxic leak on a scale that would threaten local ecology permanently. However, similar instances have probably definitely happened on a smaller scale.

There is evidence that tornadoes have disseminated radioactive material in the past. Radioactive materials from nuclear test sites have been lifted a half-mile into the air by dust devils, ground-level whirlwinds, allowing them to travel into neighboring areas. 

In the worst-case situation, one of the few nuclear reactors in Tornado Alley may be affected. 

In 1998, an Ohio nuclear reactor was hit by an EF2 tornado, which is classified as a low-to-moderate-intensity storm on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The facility was forced to use backup generators and direct it to the top priority systems when the storm cut off electricity to the plant. 

Over the duration of one day, the gasoline storage pond’s temperature increased from 110 to 137 degrees. 

Although there was no significant environmental damage before the power was restored, many onlookers were disturbed that a relatively weak tornado could cause so many problems. Theoretically, a huge tornado carrying large projectiles may result in a catastrophic radioactive leak.


The most common cause of death is not an earthquake, particularly if you don’t reside in an earthquake zone. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, just 70 individuals perished in the United States from earthquakes between 1990 and 2016. According to information from the National Centers for Environmental Information, that is insignificant compared to the 3,263 fatalities caused by tropical cyclones between 1990 and 2017.

In fact, according to NOAA’s 30-year statistics, tornadoes cause an average of as many fatalities annually as earthquakes did in the previous 27 years.


Tornadoes are rather feeble. Around 10,000 kilowatt-hours of energy, or nine tons of TNT, are typically released by a tornado. An average hurricane consumes about 10 billion kilowatt hours. 

And over 550 billion kilowatt-hours of energy, or 475 million tons of TNT or 25,000 nuclear bombs, are released during a magnitude 9 earthquake.

Despite having relatively low total power, tornadoes have a very limited region where their energy is focused. As a result, a tornado may do significant environmental harm if it targets a particularly vulnerable area.

How to Prepare for Earthquakes or Tornadoes?

So how can one stay prepared for these kinds of possible catastrophes? First, it’s crucial to understand that different places are prone to weather-related catastrophes. When planning for a weather-related crisis, it is crucial to understand the category of disaster that affects your area the most.

Establish a safe area in your home, ideally on a lower floor like a basement, and have an emergency supplies preparation kit accessible. In a tornado, it is also advisable to be aware of falling objects. 

It is crucial to have a meeting place set up in case you become separated from your family during a storm. This will help you locate relatives and friends.

Most earthquake-related injuries and fatalities are caused by falling items and debris. Safeguarding oneself during these jarring tremors is crucial: bend over, cover your head with a hard table, and hang on to whatever you are under. This can help avoid fatalities or very damaging injuries.


So, are earthquakes or tornadoes more dangerous? Well, nobody can say. That’s because one may cause a different kind of destruction than the other. Plus, the amount of danger is based on a number of factors. We hope this answers your question!