Sunday, August 23, 2009

Will we ever be able to control or stop tornadoes?

"No. It is, of course, possible to stop a tornado. One could drop a nuclear bomb and the heat of the explosion would disrupt the tornado and even the parent thunderstorm. But, even if it were practical to control or stop tornadoes, I believe it would be unwise and immoral to do so. The mathematical and physical equations that govern the atmosphere tell us that altering the weather in one area at one time will cause unpredictable consequences elsewhere at later times. it is morally wrong to purposely alter weather when the consequences may negatively impact other people and regions in unpredictable ways. No one can say whether preventing some tornadoes in Oklahoma will make floods worse in India, or deprive Missouri farmers of needed rain."

How do tornadoes form?

"The glib answer to that is we do not know. That is why we are studying them. We know the basic processes by which rotation is generated in supercellular thunderstorms. But we do not understand how and why and when these rotations, called mesocyclones, produce more intense, smaller-scale rotations called tornadoes. We do not know how to predict when a particular supercell will produce a tornado. We cannot forecast the size, strength, or lifetime of a tornado. In short, even though major strides have been made in the understanding of tornadoes and tornadogenesis in recent years, we have a long way to go."