Ask the 6 Storm Team: What’s the difference between a tornado and damaging winds?


LONG BEACH ISLAND (WATE) – This time of year a lot of us will take a trip to the beach hoping for a perfect forecast, but sometimes things can make a turn for the worse in places we might not expect.

Video of a powerful storm that roared through Long Beach Island, New Jersey shows the wind making a wall of water and tossing loose objects into the sky. The gentlemen recording this video took cover at the last moment as his chair was nearly ripped off the deck.

It’s amazing how quickly the winds picked up and then died down.

So the big question is, what caused this chaotic scene? Well, we know that the strongest winds were right on the leading edge of the thunderstorm and there wasn’t a clear funnel in the video.

This allows us to conclude that it was caused by straight-line wind damage from either a gust front or a downburst because we could clearly see a wall of water filling the video screen from side to side.

It was not a tornado or a waterspout because they usually have a visible funnel and a clear path, which were not evident in this video. Keep in mind, severe thunderstorms in East Tennessee can produce similar conditions.

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