In Star Trek TNG, you hear about some sort of defense back on earth that is supposed to screen out all the bad weather. In the episode "True Q," it is mentioned several times as being capable of preventing/stopping a tornado.

Obviously we can't do this today, and I realize we still don't understand much about how tornadoes even form. We might know what stops them though. What would we need to do to stop/prevent a tornado?

Clarity: This is science-based. I know we can't do this right now, so I'm looking for what we would need to cause. How we cause that is another matter entirely. (For example, maybe a drop in air pressure somewhere solves the whole thing. How we do that comes later.)

Note: This is not a duplicate of this question on how to stop hurricanes. The method for stopping them could possibly be the same (I wouldn't know, hence the question) but the two phenomenons are, to the best of my knowledge, quite different in how they form and behave.

  • $\begingroup$ I think this question might be a little vague ... "In a fictional show, a magical technology stops bad weather. How could we achieve the same results?" <- the answer is we have no idea. Maybe you wish to know which atmospheric conditions lead to the formation to a tornado, and how those conditions might be altered (strictly at a scientific level) such that the mix does not result in a tornado? (for example, lowering the overall air pressure in the target area would lead to the tornado never building up strength, and dissipating) $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of What would we need to stop a hurricane? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Cursed1701 No, I asked both questions. A tornado and a hurricane form and behave very differently (as far as I am aware). The method for stopping them might be the same, but it could also be completely different. I don't know, which is why I asked the question. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM Yes. What you described would make a good answer. I might not have phrased it the best, but I want to know what we would need to do to stop it. How we do that is another matter entirely. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ Then I suggest editing the question to make it clear that you're interested only in the general scientific phenomenon. Also, I think you should tag it as science-based in order to stop people from going off on tangents about possible technologies to accomplish the task (you can then ask that in a separate question) $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:44

4 Answers 4


If you have Star Trek level future technology, I propose stopping a tornado by disrupting the horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere. This phase causes the spinning motion that is then lifted vertical by rising warm air into a funnel cloud (and then reaches to the ground to cause destruction)

When the spinning motion has formed and is detected, it could be disrupted by suddenly heating the area. Warm air will expand and disrupt the spinning pattern and break up the tornado before it can be lifted vertically into a funnel.

To heat the area rapidly, I would use a large, powerful, space-mounted infrared laser.

So you could stop tornadoes by flying a fleet of early detection satellites and powerful infra-red lasers in space. Lasers, what problems don't they solve?

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    $\begingroup$ Note: Try not to be in the area of devastation caused on the ground by satellite-based lasers that are shooting searing rays toward the earth. Side-effects may include first, second, and third degree burns or death. $\endgroup$
    – GrinningX
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:39

With Star Trek technology, this shouldn't be a problem I suppose however with Earth-like technology it may be possible in the near future.

  1. Recent research indicates that in order to form, a tornado needs both a cold, rainy downdraft and a warm updraft. To stop a tornado from forming, just heat this cold downdraft until it's cold no longer. And how would one do this, you ask? Simple: Blast it with beams of microwaves from a fleet of satellites. The satellites would collect solar energy, transform it into microwaves, and send a beam down to Earth. The beams would be focused on cold downdrafts, heating them like last night's leftovers. The European Space Agency has funded initial studies on building this type of satellite, though it hopes to use the satellites as high-altitude solar-power stations, not as weather modifiers.

Popsci This link also provides a potential answer(s) your other question.

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    $\begingroup$ This solution is known to the State of California to cause cancer and other harmful birth defects $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ Lucky for Californians there are no tornados $\endgroup$
    – NuWin
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ So basically, fix tornadoes by putting a massive microwave cannon in space. Yeah I'm sure the international ban on satellite based weaponry will be totally fine with that... $\endgroup$
    – Adam Wykes
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ Why all the hassle with microwave cannons on satellites when we can just nuke it? $\endgroup$
    – FiatLux
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ The amount of power this would require would be unbelievable. Heating up air near the surface from space is going to be difficult, especially with microwaves. The cold air is dry, so there goes trying to excite the water molecules to transfer the energy. Popular Science is really stretching the term 'science' on this one... $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 12:13

Tornadoes need warm water to form. Warm water in Earth's oceans, when available, is a relatively thin layer over colder water. As a whole, ocean temperatures are low and stable.

Hence, increasing the mixing of water in Earth's oceans would prevent tornadoes, by decreasing the availability of warm water.

Imagine a gigantic floating vertical cylinder with an open top and an open bottom. Barely floating actually, mostly submersed with the rim just over the surface. Waves will crash at the rim, pouring warm water into the cylinder. The rising water column will pressure some water down from the cylinder bottom. There, mixing increased.

I have seen this years ago in some news article as a serious, if very outlandish, idea to prevent tornadoes before they form. Just churn out thousands and thousands of such cylinders. Unfortunately I cannot find the reference.

(If implemented, this is almost sure to have unintended consequences. Anyone who can imagine what they might look like, please share in the comments.)

  • $\begingroup$ Are you perhaps thinking of hurricanes? Many tornadoes form in the middle of dry, land-locked areas like Eastern Australia and the mid-United States $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 1:28

I´m pretty sure we are able to stop tornados. For a tornado to form you would need hot air on the ground and cold air up in the sky. (To put it very simply...)

To break the tornado, I guess you just need to either warm the top up, or cool the ground down. I suppose it´s better to cool the ground down, since heating the top up could just create a bigger tornado (I´m guessing here, but you would still have a hot lower part and a cold higher part, so that could go massively wrong). You could heat it up with a bomb btw, e.g. an atomic bomb.

A good way to cool it down would maybe be dropping high amounts of water on the path of the tornado. This could have two effects:

  1. Cool the area
  2. Give the tornado more mass (water) so it needs a bigger temperature difference to keep its rotational speed.

These effects would reduce the power of the tornado and in the end, stop it.

Don´t hate me if I made a mistake in my thoughts.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Willi, if we were able to stop tornados, we would. Or at least try. Please do some research before posting...I don't know the answers myself, which is why I haven't answered. You're basically just speculating off the top of your head when you could be Googling some of your claims and learning more about tornados. I often Google as I write answers to fill in gaps in my knowledge and sometimes I even end up changing my premise. Facts are good. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ Hello Willi. You've been a member for a while, but not active. When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about the culture of the site and you should review the [hel[] pages. I'd love to see you become more active! Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 22:59

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