So I know that Fire Tornadoes are a thing, however would you be able to create a hurricane using the firebending powers from the TV series Avatar the Last Airbender?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Avatar Series, Firebending is basically pyromancy. Offensive moves like punches and kicks generate blasts/balls of fire. These fires can also be maintained and controlled by the firebender and an associated set of martial arts related moves.

So I'm wondering if it would be possible for an army of firebenders to create a hurricane the size of Katrina, by creating many large fires, generating pillars of hot rising air which then cools, While more cold air is sucked in by the displaced hot air, eventually forming into a hurricane. How large or how much area would the fire need to cover?

*I'm not sure if this part matters, but the firebenders will be at the north pole and so the weather conditions can be raining, snowing or huge rain clouds but not raining yet.

Updates: I just wanted to add some updates/adjustments to clarify what I've mentioned in comments and provide more background information

  • In the world of avatar, the direct manipulation of elements is often very hand wavy and focuses more on believable than physically possible (like where do they get all the energy). However the indirect manipulation of elements follows the laws of physics. So an Airbender could lift a rock by generating a large enough gust of wind and controlling the wind around the rock, or shoot a rock by forcing air to rush through a narrow tube with the rock in it, however they can't lift the rock by creating a cushion of air around it.
  • Firebenders are immune to fire (not in line with the avatar world, but allows them not to fry their friend next to them)
  • The North Pole is the home of the Northern Water Tribe. They live in a city made of Ice (since they are water benders).
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    $\begingroup$ Is it just me, or having your fire benders create a hurricane in the north pole a non plausible bad idea? Hurricanes need warm air to move right? so while your Fire benders can even successfully create a hurricane, it wont move because north pole is full of cold air. Your Firebender will do the tedious task to warm the air surrounding the hurricane, then move the hurricane manually, I think they'd be dead before the hurricane even moves, then the hard effort they did will just dissipate for a matter of minutes. Because of the lack of warm air. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 3:01
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    $\begingroup$ Addition: Hurricanes need constant warm vapor rising from water surfaces, while north pole has Ice. The hurricane will dissipate. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 3:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Mr.J But will it form in the first place? A couple minutes of hurricane destruction would be pretty devastating, especially if its dropped on the front steps of a city. Would a shower of rain/snow to provide the necessary vapor required? The aim of the weather conditions I put in were to hopefully fulfill the water conditions. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ Note that average high temperatures at the North Pole are barely above zero degrees Celsius - water will freeze and rain will fall as snow or hail because the higher you go in the atmosphere it will generally get colder (which is incidentally why you get hail and snow falling anywhere when temperatures at ground level are above zero). The record high temperature is $13^\text{o} C$ but that's an extreme exception, not at all typical. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ I'd have to dig a bit to get some real numbers, but one thing to be aware of is that nature is massively bigger than you are in ways you cannot comprehend. In less than an hour, an average hurricane dumps more power than Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever tested (50MT). If your armies of pyromancers have power like that, there's much more direct ways to accomplish your goals. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 5:38

3 Answers 3


What do we need to create an hurricane?

While six factors appear to be generally necessary, tropical cyclones may occasionally form without meeting all of the following conditions.

  1. In most situations, water temperatures of at least 26.5 °C (79.7 °F) are needed down to a depth of at least 50 m.
  2. Another factor is rapid cooling with height, which allows the release of the heat of condensation that powers a tropical cyclone.
  3. High humidity is needed, especially in the lower-to-mid troposphere; when there is a great deal of moisture in the atmosphere, conditions are more favorable for disturbances to develop.
  4. Low amounts of wind shear (the difference in wind speed at different altitudes or position) are needed, as high shear is disruptive to the storm's circulation.
  5. Tropical cyclones generally need to form more than 555 km (345 mi) or five degrees of latitude away from the equator, allowing the Coriolis effect to deflect winds blowing towards the low pressure center and creating a circulation.
  6. Lastly, a formative tropical cyclone needs a preexisting system of disturbed weather. Tropical cyclones will not form spontaneously.

Your army of firebenders can maybe achieve 1 and 2, but won't be capable of satisfying the other requirements.

They won't be able to trigger an hurricane.

If you instead are trying to trigger a firestorm, things are probably even more difficult.

the phenomenon's determining characteristic is a fire with its own storm-force winds from every point of the compass.

A firestorm is created as a result of the stack effect as the heat of the original fire draws in more and more of the surrounding air. This draft can be quickly increased if a low-level jet stream exists over or near the fire. As the updraft mushrooms, strong inwardly-directed gusty winds develop around the fire, supplying it with additional air. This would seem to prevent the firestorm from spreading on the wind, but the tremendous turbulence created may also cause the strong surface inflow winds to change direction erratically. A firestorm may also develop into a mesocyclone and induce true tornadoes/fire whirls. The greater draft of a firestorm draws in greater quantities of oxygen, which significantly increases combustion, thereby also substantially increasing the production of heat. Violent, erratic wind drafts suck movables into the fire and as is observed with all intense conflagrations, radiated heat from the fire can melt asphalt, some metals, and glass, and turn street tarmac into flammable hot liquid. The very high temperatures ignite anything that might possibly burn, until the firestorm runs low on fuel.

A firestorm does not appreciably ignite material at a distance ahead of itself; more accurately, the heat desiccates those materials and makes them more vulnerable to ignition by embers or firebrands, increasing the rate of fire spotting.

The difficulties your firebenders will meet are:

  • they are at the pole, and the only combustible material present there is themselves.
  • they are at the pole, and there is hardly anything which can act as a Venturi to accelerate the flow of air.
  • the firestorm won't appreciably move from where it is triggered.

You might want to try dispatch the firebenders at your target location, but you will succeed only if the target uses flammable materials for building, like wood or paper. Modern concrete or brick building will not do.

Also mind that a firestorm is nowhere close to the size of an hurricane.

  • $\begingroup$ Can I get some clarification on some of the terms you used? Wind Shear? Is that basically the wind speed and its direction? So low winds with little direction change? Disturbed Weather? I'm not sure how to picture that. Like some weird combination of high and low pressure in the sky? $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 3:18
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    $\begingroup$ Wind shear is the difference in wind speed at different altitudes. Consistently high or low winds are both acceptable, but a big difference isn't. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ So if it had been raining for the prior couple of days and there was no wind, I would only need to address point 5 and 6? $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't even know that firestorms were a thing. So while its not on the scale of a hurricane, it will probably be what is created in my situation. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 2:18



1) You need to have atleast 20Million Firebenders that can create a fire pillar that can reach earth's stratosphere.

2) The heat of the fire pillar should be 1100C PER PERSON, enough to melt... the person.

3) The Army shall move counter clockwise to produce a whirling hurricane (and to compensate for the Coriolis force present in the southern hemisphere) in speeds of up to 300 to 400KPH minimum.

4) Assuming your target is Canada (No offense, its the nearest target in north pole) You need roughly 2 or 3 Billion firebenders with the same ability to transport the Hurricane from Northpole to Canada, making sure that the speed, heat, height and body count of the firebenders remains absolutely the same, a degree short and the hurricane will dissipate before it reaches the target.

Reasons behind the answer.

1) 20 Million firebenders is a rough estimate of people crowded together with a similar size of that of a hurricane's eye, which is basically the engine of the huricane.

2) Fire pillars reaching the stratosphere, this is where hurricanes form, you have to have your firebenders warm the base of the storm up until the stratosphere to create the vaccumm (or the engine) needed to create a hurricane.

3)1100C per person, You are trying to create a hurricane in the North Pole, which is... covered in ice. You have to have enough heat to turn ice into water, and turn the cold air into warm vapor to achieve the feat. A few hundred Celsius is not enough to make your base warm

4)Spinning on 300 to 400KPH minimum, normal speeds of a starting Hurricane, which slows down when it hits land masses, in my opinion your firebenders need to turn faster so that your hurricane will leave the NorthPole alive

5)2 to 3 Billion more firebenders for transport, depending on how cold the weather is, and how cold the water the hurricane is travelling, you need to keep the hurricane spinning, and the manpower is needed to transport the hurricane from northpole to target in a constant spin.

This is my unrealistic answer on how to transport a hurricane from northpole to Canada. If your target if further than Canada, assuming that the season in the southern hemisphere is winter, you need more than 5 Billion firebenders with the same capability of the creators. Keep in mind that you can only target those that are in the southern hemisphere.

  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm, why would the actual fire need to go that high? I thought if it produced an adequate flow of hot air, that would shoot up and cool down, rather than the pillar of firing reaching up that high. Should I add the following details to the question(?) This event does take place in the world of Avatar the Last Airbender. So the north pole is an actual location with water benders living there. So you wouldn't need to worry about moving it to Canada. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee yeah I thought you would ask that, I have to add it. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 5:06

No they can not!

Just your average hurricane has energy release is in hundred and more of nuclear bombs a day and more. From wiki:Scientists estimate that a tropical cyclone releases heat energy at the rate of 50 to 200 exajoules (10^18 J) per day, equivalent to about 1 PW (10^15 watt). This rate of energy release is equivalent to 70 times the world energy consumption of humans and 200 times the worldwide electrical generating capacity, or to exploding a 10-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes.

Why even bother with hurricanes, even small ones are like tens of nuclear bombs a day and just few days of that to form it...

If you can put out so much energy, why even bother?


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