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Gray World Daily – An Unofficial Part of the Phil Hendrie Universe » Featured, Jeff Dowder » Dr. Dowder’s Tornado Prevention Tips

Dr. Dowder’s Tornado Prevention Tips

As a mechanical physics post-doctoral fellow in the physics department of Cal Tech I get to see some pretty radical stuff.  I’ve seen mesons and bosons smashed into infinity by a particle accelerator.  I’ve seen artificially induced chain lightning dancing across my desk like a snake.  But last week I saw one of the most radical things of all, I saw a tornado get blowed up.  My associate, Toby Bo, works in the aerospace lab next door, and he runs into my lab and says, “You gotta check out what’s going on in our wind tunnel today.”  I go next door and he’s got the wind tunnel cranking, and through the glass window I see this raging tornado, or to use its official name, a vertical vortex.  Toby discovered by accident that if you put a column inside the test chamber where the airplane or car model usually goes, it creates an vertical eddy that creates the negative pressure needed for a mini-tornado to form.  The smoke injected into the test chamber makes the funnel cloud really stand out.  So he says, “What do you think?” And I was all, “Dude, that’s righteous!  Have you tried seeing if it’ll suck anything up?”  He hadn’t, so he shuts down the wind generator and we grab handfuls of things off Stewart’s, Toby’s coworker’s, desk and put them in the bottom of the test area, about where we think the base of the funnel would be.  Toby cranks the machine back up and sure enough after about 45 seconds there goes Stewart’s paper clips, flying up through the funnel and getting thrown back out, then at a minute thirty his Pac Man like staple remover gets picked up and tossed out.  We’re having a blast, man, but we start wondering what else we can do.  ”Let’s try making the funnel collapse by messin’ with it.”  I say.  We open up this access panel on the left side, which lets you reach into the chamber to make minor adjustments to any model you have in there, and we start trying to interrupt the funnel.  We stick a ruler through to chop the funnel in half, nothing.  We squirt some water at it, nothing.  We stick our hands in it, nothing.  But then we really start thinking.  This was just days after that monster big F5 tornado swept through Moore, OK.  We now had a captured tornado we could test.  All we had to do was figure out a way to destroy this one and the people of the midwest would be safe, saved by the as yet undetermined Dowder-Bo Method.  We shut down the wind tunnel and began to plan.

What is a tornado?  A tornado forms when you’ve got a bunch of air going one way, and a bunch of air going another way, and they crash into each other at the wrong angle.  This collision creates super low pressure at the bottom of the funnel and all the air from the clouds at the top wants to rush into the bottom, like bathwater wants to run down a drain.  All we had to do was figure out a way to stop up that drain or else get all that water out of the bathtub some other way so it didn’t want to use the drain no more.

We began a bunch of experiments.  I won’t bore you with the details, as the results will speak for themselves.

We found a number of solutions which were able to destroy our lab tornado 100% of the time.  And now it’s time for you to try them at home and let us know if they work on its big cousins.

Dowder-Bo Method of Tornado Stopping

  • Blow it up.  We had some highly flammable polyethoglycolene in the lab and nothing stopped a tornado faster than when we placed a little at the base of the tornado and lit it.  Boom!  Tornado gone!  You gotta be careful about not using too much explosives, though.  The explosion creates over-pressure which fills up the low pressure that created the tornado.  Put too much explosives and you might end up with too much pressure which could create an upside-down  tornado.  So, start small and work your way up until you get the mixture right.
  • Counter-rotate the winds with house fans.  We found that a single desk fan aimed against the rotating winds was enough to collapse the funnel nine times out of ten.  Now, we did some quick math and found that you could neutralize an F0 and possibly an F1 tornado with approximately 217 20″ box fans, which would cost only $3,689.  A very economical solution.  Much cheaper than getting your roof replaced.  Just make sure you point them in the right direction.  Do it wrong and you might turn an F0 tornado into an F3.
  • Have a Bonfire.  If you don’t have explosives and you don’t have box fans, the next best method is to grab whatever scrap wood you have, pile it up, pour on some gasoline and start a big bonfire.  The bigger the better.  Our tests showed that the rapidly expanding air caused by the heat neutralized the low pressure at the bottom of the tornado and shut it down.  Just be warned, this method took the longest to work, and until the tornado petered out you had the added complication of burning debris being thrown around all over the place.  This is best used to protect trailer parks, since there’s not much stuff there that’s very expensive anyway.


We hope this helps, and let us know how it worked out for you and your family.

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