Difference Between Twister and Tornado


Main Difference

The main difference between twister and tornado is that the term twister is a slang term for a tornado.

Twister vs. Tornado

Tornado is known as one of the most destructive of storms. These are the spinning winds of the havoc that can go over 200 mph and sometimes more than 1 mile wide. The term “twister” is also known as to be a spinning wind storm. The twister and the tornado have the same intensity and cause the same amount of destruction. But this destruction depends upon their strengths. Twisters and tornadoes pretty much look alike. They cause the same amount of damage. So, there is no clear cut difference between a twister and a tornado. The term twister is just slang for a tornado. The name twister is given to tornado because of the way it acts. It is a rapidly twisting vortex. It gains strength most of the time as it moves along the land. Generally, the term tornado is used by meteorologists. Twisters and tornadoes are the same things with two different terms. They name the same natural phenomenon of a strong column of rotating air. A twister or a tornado is a spinning pillar of air that is formed when the warm air of land meets the cold air from the sky. This meet up of cold and warm air causes instability in pressure and makes the warm air rise. When this happens, a tornado is born within a giant, actively rotating thunderstorm. Before a tornado hits land, hail a rain begins to fall. The spinning mass of air starts to speed up when the tornado hits land, as it sucks up dust and debris in its path. Tornadoes are easily visible because of this debris and dirt that they pick up.


Comparison Chart

another name for the wind storm tornadoa violently rotating column of air
Slang termActual term
transparent and takes its color from the dust and debriscolorless but takes its color from the dust and debris
usually lasts in minutes but some can exceed more than an hourusually lasts in minutes but some can exceed more than an hour
when it will land and how it dies outwhen it will land and how it dies out

What is Twister?

The word “twister” is another name for the wind storm “tornado.” The name “twister” has become a more popular term for tornadoes since the movie ‘Twister’ (1996). Twisters are just tornadoes. This term is used as a slang of tornado because of how it acts. A twister is a rapidly twisting vortex of air. It is also known as a cyclone. Twister consists of a violently rotating column of air that forms from the base of a cloud and descends to the ground. It is also associated with a thunderstorm. It is alarming and causes damages. The formation of twisters occurs when warm air meets cold air. It causes instability in pressures and helps warm air to rise. Twisters grow by taking up dust and debris. Tornadoes are usually invisible, but they become visible by the debris and dirt they pick up. One interesting thing to note about the twisters and tornado is, the cause of how it is born and how it grows is known but how it dies is still a mystery for the scientists. It is nearly impossible to tell or predict that when and where a tornado is going to hit. Some tornadoes occur in water too. They are barely visible as they only pick up water. A twister or a tornado is so terrifying because it is formed instantly within minutes. Twisters are the baffling force of nature. They hold a lot of mysteries. Some twisters or tornadoes last only minutes and some last longer than an hour.


What is a Tornado?

Tornadoes are a natural calamity. It is responsible for costing billions in property damage and claiming millions of lives. A tornado is a highly rotating column of air which can have spinning winds up to 360mph. It can destroy everything in its path. It is in contact with both the ground and the cumulonimbus cloud. The base of a tornado that touches the earth is surrounded by dust and debris. Tornado is colorless or transparent, but this dust and debris give the tornado its color. A tornado can have wind speeds between 40mph and 360mph depending on its size. Tornadoes mainly develop from a class of thunderstorms that is known as supercells. Supercells contain mesocyclones that are an area of organized rotation. This area is usually 2–10 km up in the atmosphere. The mesocyclone begins to start taking in cool air from the downdraft region of the storm as it lowers to the base of the cloud. The cool air in the downdraft and the warm air in the updraft from a wall of rotating air. It forms the beginnings of a tornado. A tornado dissipates or dies when the downdraft encases it and cuts off the warm air supply to the core. It causes the vortex to weaken and eventually die. It is hard foreseeing that when a tornado will land. Another mystery is how the tornadoes die out.


  • Landspout (that occur on land)
  • Waterspout (that occur on water)
  • Multiple Vortexes (that contains multiple vortices spinning inside the main vortex)

Key Differences

  • Twisters and tornadoes are the same things with two different terms. They name the same natural phenomenon of a strong column of rotating air. The only difference between them is of their names. The term “twister” is used as a slang of “tornado” because of how it “twists.”


Twisters and tornadoes both are destructive storms. They are horrible and can wreak havoc even on the most highly fortified cities and towns.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson