can you stop a tornado

Can You Stop a Tornado? Tornadoes have always inspired wonder and horror in those who watch them due to their incredible destructive potential.

They are one of nature’s most violent and unexpected events, thus it is natural to wonder, “Can you stop a tornado from forming?”

The idea of physically stopping or controlling a tornado remains an elusive challenge, despite scientists having made tremendous progress in understanding tornado creation and detection.

But, how can you stop a tornado?

There is currently no way to stop a tornado’s destructive path, as the intricate atmospheric circumstances give rise to tornadoes, making them an unstoppable phenomenon. 

Explanation of a Tornado Formation

explanation of a tornado formation

Tornadoes typically form in supercell storms although not all will produce them. They form when the winds begin spinning as they blow from different directions.

Not all spinning air creates a tornado because there needs to be wind spinning near the ground too.

These gusting winds heat up and rise to cool higher up and fall back down to the ground where they spread out over the land.

When sufficient warm moist air rises and falls, the air nearest the ground at the bottom of the storm starts rotating. 

An Important Consideration

Usually, the air at ground level does not get warm enough to start spinning, but when it does angular momentum makes the air spin faster as it is drawn into the low-pressure center of the storm.

Initially, the rotating air column moves horizontally until the force of the rising rotating air pushes it vertically to form the tornado.

Fact: A tornado's winds can reach speeds of exceeding 300 miles per hour, making it one of the most potent forces in the natural world. 

Can You Stop a Tornado?

possibility of preventing a tornado

We hate breaking it to you, but you cannot stop a tornado.

A tornado is the product of powerful forces operating on enormous scales in massive supercell storms.

It is extremely difficult to predict when and where one will form. To stop them would mean stopping the storm, an impossible feat.

Supercell storms are massive on any scale and are often described as runaway powerhouses, sometimes covering hundreds of square miles whilst generating power equivalent to multiple atom bombs.

Thankfully, they are still relatively rare weather events, but due to climate change and rising sea temperatures, such thunderstorms are becoming more frequent and severe as are the tornados they spawn. 

What Can You Do to Stop a Tornado?

tornado mitigation measures

Well, you can do nothing to stop it. The best anyone can do is prepare to stay safe.

Once a warning is given, knowing what to do to avoid being struck by the fast-moving flying debris is what saves lives.

Although the storm may be long-lived, tornados formation is so rapid and unpredictable there may only be a few minutes to react.

In fact, there is not enough time between the tornado watch and the warning, which is the official confirmation that one is almost certain to touch the ground.

Fact: Because of the potential for loss of life and costly extensive damage, being able to stop or influence a tornado would bring innumerable benefits, but it seems unlikely.

Is It Possible to Control a Tornado?

is it possible to control a tornado

Interfering with natural processes of supercell storms equal to 20-kiloton nuclear explosions would have global consequences.

Therefore, no one has tried to stop or control a tornado by interfering with its storm but people still think there must be something mankind can do to control them.

Unfortunately, we let the best chance go by as we polluted the atmosphere in the mad scramble to become more technologically advanced. 

Possible Options

possible options

There are theories, including sending up nuclear bombs even in the knowledge that this would be as destructive as the tornado, if not considerably worse.

Another suggestion is using tons of dry ice or small-load missiles, if we can find a way to deliver them into the tornado fast enough.

But attacking an individual tornado is probably pointless when it is part of something much bigger than can easily replace it.

After all, we are talking about energy in the quadrillions of joules

What Can Slow Down a Tornado?

what can slow down a tornado

Even being able to slow a tornado remains so unlikely it is hardly worth urgent scientific inquiry with so many other priorities to address amid imminent climate change.

Things have improved recently with advanced technologies.

For instance, it is possible to use advanced storm monitoring technology that offers many benefits, such as:

  • Real-time observation
  • Supercomputer simulations
  • Real-Time modeling

But, still, meteorologists can only talk about tornadoes forming in terms of probability based on the constantly changing conditions in a developing storm. 

An Important Consideration

Without the details of where and when a tornado is likely to hit, intervention of any kind remains problematic.

It takes a change in the atmospheric conditions in and around the storm to slow the tornado spawning process and a change closer to the ground to slow a single tornado.

change in the atmospheric conditions

When the ground below it gets cold it impacts the convection process leaving the tornado with no access to its source of fuel.

With air no longer rising rapidly, the cold does not rush in to replace it to drive the wind. 

Fact: Tornadoes can produce winds that are stronger than even the greatest storms. 

The Role of Cloud Seeding and Precipitation to Stop a Tornado

cloud seeding and precipitation in tornado control

Cloud seeding and precipitation management are not new ideas.

These kinds of weather management techniques have been under development for 70 years.

And many materials have been tossed into the atmosphere, usually in effort to bring on rain or as a way to mitigate hail damage or clear dense fog.

Experimentation and trial and error have revealed that some of the material dropped into clouds actually work and cause rain to fall locally sometimes almost at once.

There has even been some experimentation investigating how effective cloud seeding is in managing weather produced by tropical storms. 

An Important Consideration

It proved much harder to influence the chaotic conditions of a complex weather system such as a supercell thunderstorm or its associated tornadoes.

Not only was targeting an issue, but the effect was so small it would mean seeding multiple clouds over vast areas and dealing with massive amounts of precipitation afterward. 

Concept of Physical Barriers to Disrupt Tornado Formation

physical barriers for tornado disruption

Since altering the conditions that lead to tornadoes forming or staying formed long enough to touch ground seems out of reach, it is reasonable to look at preventing the tornadoes from forming in some other way.

One idea to protect the high-frequency areas is to build 980 ft barriers stretching over 100 miles of landscape to act as tornado-softening hill ranges.

Its build costs would exceed $16bn but over the years it would pay for itself by eliminating the costs of expensive tornado damage.

The idea has its critics who point out that we couldn’t build walls strong enough.

Three walls have been proposed to seal off the infamous Tornado Alley, including:

  • One in North Dakota
  • One running along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma
  • One in south Texas and Louisiana

Those in favor cite China’s low tornado frequency as evidence that walls can disrupt the formation of tornadoes. 

Is It Possible for Sound Waves to Stop a Tornado?

sound waves and tornado control possibility

The noise a tornado makes has been likened to a rapidly approaching steam train.

And it has proposed that by using what we know about sound and how it resonates we could be able to control a tornado, if not cancel it out altogether.

This theory postulates that the surface of the water has a natural frequency of vibration.

And if we match this frequency with a noise of our own, we could stop a tornado from forming.

It sounds outlandish, but there is evidence, again from China, as to why people might think such an idea might work. 

There farmers have been using musical bamboo windmills as bird repellents for centuries and noticed when they did the area experienced fewer tornados. 

An Important Consideration

The principle has consequently been used to investigate whether or not it is possible to at least change the direction of a tornado.

It means understanding how sound waves can transfer rotation.

how sound waves can transfer rotation

Through modeling, scientists found it was theoretically possible since a large aperture vortex does not transfer rotation and is therefore stable.

They created a sonic twister that can lift objects but how this can help stop a tornado is unclear.        

Fact: A tornado's extreme low-pressure center can generate a suction force strong enough to cause considerable damage. 


Can you stop a tornado? Not really. Tornadoes are incredibly destructive natural phenomena that we now lack the knowledge and technology to prevent or control.

Inexplicable atmospheric conditions give rise to tornadoes, which are themselves complicated atmospheric occurrences.

Our capacity to predict and monitor tornadoes has greatly increased thanks to modern meteorological instruments and early warning systems, but we still have not figured out how to stop them.