# Could dropping a massive plate thru the center of a tornado kill it?

by garbuhj
Tags: dropping, kill, massive, plate, tornado
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 Homework Sci Advisor HW Helper Thanks P: 12,475 Welcome to PF; The trick to thinking about this is to try figure out how big, and heavy, the plate would have to be. Quite large sheets of metal get tossed about by tornadoes all the time - so do aircraft for that matter.
 P: 3 I figured that it would need to be massive and huge, but it certainly seems like it could be done, and if it could be done it seems like it would be financially and morally worth doing. EDIT: In other words, aircraft get tossed around by tornadoes, but rarely do aircraft CARRIERS get tossed around by tornadoes. So somewhere in between these two sizes/masses should probably be able to do the trick of pushing through the tornado instead of vice versa.
 P: 151 Could dropping a massive plate thru the center of a tornado kill it? I don't have an answer myself, but I wanted to say that I don't want aircraft carriers falling from the sky out here. An underground shelter might keep me safe from a tornado, but this massive sheet of metal would probably kill me outright, or else trap me and leave me to suffocate.
 Homework Sci Advisor HW Helper Thanks P: 12,475 How big-an area does the sheet of metal have to cover? (Remember that it has to be strong enough not to buckle.) What sort of aircraft would be used to carry it? Where would you store the sheet when it isn't being used? What sort of speeds are needed to get the sheet to the tornado in time? (Tornadoes are inherently unpredictable and they move around.) What about other morally imperative things to spend the money on? Oh and, thank's Nick, what about the damage done by the sheet when it hits the ground?
 P: 381 How IS a tornado funnel affected by objects? Typical diametere of a tornado is 100 m. Now imagine that a moving tornado funnel were to collide with a stationary, affixed to ground and impermeable to wind object that is 400 m tall and 40 m wide. In other words, a skyscraper. What are the usual effects of a tornado experiencing a dead centre collision with a skyscraper? For the tornado, and for the skyscraper? Or how about a bit wider, but also stronger and often taller obstacles - namely mountains? Appalachians are 2000 m tall, and there is a scatter of a few outlying mountains like Monadnock. How are travelling tornadoes affected by tall mountain peaks and ridges?
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 Typical diametere of a tornado is 100 m.
The cell that powers the tornado is usually much bigger though.

Tornados sometimes hit cities - so you can look them up for details.
i.e. http://www.livescience.com/29691-big...es-100917.html

Mountains don't stop tornadoes either ... basically if the obstacle is too big to destroy, it's basically a bit of terrain.

Also see:
 Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 2,508 ^^ yes indeed, the tornado will just go around or over the top of there isn't an aircraft "strong" enough to lift a metal plate big enough to have any sort of effect Dave
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 Quote by davenn there isn't an aircraft "strong" enough to lift a metal plate big enough to have any sort of effect Dave

Sure no SINGLE aircraft could lift it, but a squadron of 8ish working together would be able to pick up pretty much anything.
 P: 151 Even if that were true (I'm going to go out on a limb and say it isn't), that would be suicidal. You can't tether aircraft together and expect things to end well.
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 Quote by garbuhj I figured that it would need to be massive and huge, but it certainly seems like it could be done, and if it could be done it seems like it would be financially and morally worth doing. EDIT: In other words, aircraft get tossed around by tornadoes, but rarely do aircraft CARRIERS get tossed around by tornadoes. So somewhere in between these two sizes/masses should probably be able to do the trick of pushing through the tornado instead of vice versa.
And since no one knows where a tornado might strike and they usually have a short duration, how would all of these aircraft reach a tornado in time? And what about the people underneath that heavy plate?
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 Quote by garbuhj Sure no SINGLE aircraft could lift it, but a squadron of 8ish working together would be able to pick up pretty much anything.
Negative. So, I think we've pretty much been able to dismiss this particular tornado-butsing idea, but kudos to you for your creativity! Can you think of some other ways that we should talk through? Certainly being able to disrupt tornado systems (or keep the bottom of the funnel from touching down) would have huge value.

You've looked at the explosives option, have you looked at other weather control options? Maybe someting related to cloud seeding, or the Butterfly Effect, or something else?

BTW, thanks for the smile -- "Rarely are aircraft carriers tossed around by tornados" -- there's a good reason for that!
 P: 258 Folks, Don't bother to explain to me why GB's idea is a bad one; I could have thought that out myself. My question is slightly different in two parts. 1:Why should the idea work anyway? (If it would work, there might conceivably be alternative ways of achieving the same effect. Not that I believe that either, but it might come closer to an interesting discussion. 2:I am not convinced it would work anyway even on the most basic assumptions, such as that we could handle the twister chasing and logistic problems. I remember back in the days before I finally migrated from bathtubs to showers, playing with the vortex when I pulled the plug. Once that vortex had formed, it was extremely difficult to discourage, and one of its skills was to teleport itself from wherever you tried to discourage it, to just past your hands. Unless your twister-squasher was the size of Kansas on a hot day, I reckon you would simply displace it a few hundred metres, and very likely create a few new twisters in the process. Remember, the twister amounts to an accumulation of energy in a given form; mess with it and it must go somewhere. I have a better idea: drop a windpower turbine onto it so that the energy goes where it is wanted. Am I missing something? Like the generator's power cables maybe?
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 Quote by Jon Richfield Remember, the twister amounts to an accumulation of energy in a given form; mess with it and it must go somewhere. I have a better idea: drop a windpower turbine onto it so that the energy goes where it is wanted. Am I missing something? Like the generator's power cables maybe?
Wind turbines are designed to operate in breezes of moderate velocity, not 250 mph+ windstorms.

If you drop a wind turbine in the middle of a tornado, it just adds to the debris field.
P: 258
 Quote by SteamKing Wind turbines are designed to operate in breezes of moderate velocity, not 250 mph+ windstorms. If you drop a wind turbine in the middle of a tornado, it just adds to the debris field.
But SK, there is nothing saying that we could not design turbines for even 500 mph winds, and they would be a lot more efficient than for even 100 mph turbines, except that our winds are too stingy to support such efficient turbines. I bet we could design droppable turbines that would work better than million-tonne steel plates! heck, we might even be able to design self-propelled flying turbines, though they would need a lot of tornados to power them! Maybe if we caused enough climate change, do you suppose...?

Mind you, the cables, the cables... Do you suppose we could design the turbines to emit their generated energy as microwaves to be picked up by ground-based aerials, instead of dragging power cables connected to our networks?
 Homework Sci Advisor HW Helper Thanks P: 12,475 The wind turbines suffer from the same problems as the plate. I did a list earlier - please go through it one point at a time. Note: To avoid adding to the debris field, the turbine has to be very strong and heavy and well anchored - you'd need a lot of them all over the tornado belt to be sure of catching the tornadoes as they form. Having costed out such a system, money, materials, land, maintenance, you need to compare with what other strategies the money etc. could be spent on. If you want to drop the turbine - then it becomes part of the debris field pretty much because you just dropped it into a tornado... or it is so heavy that no aircraft can carry it and it will do damage to things when it lands - maybe comparable to the damage otherwise caused by the tornado. But before that is a problem, you still have to get it to the tornado in a timely fashion - have you worked out the logistics of that sort of deployment? These sorts of pseudo-solutions are all over the net - for some reason the people proposing them never want to do any maths. Have you even worked out how many turbines you'd need to drop the wind-speed from tornado-speed to something not damaging? Have you stood by a windmill on a windy day and observed how much energy the windmill takes out of the wind? Have you looked up the physics of windmills?
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 Quote by Simon Bridge The wind turbines suffer from the same problems as the plate. I did a list earlier - please go through it one point at a time. ... These sorts of pseudo-solutions are all over the net - for some reason the people proposing them never want to do any maths.
Simon, you remind me vividly of the (computer) scientist who complained that if you don't give people an example, they don't understand the point, and if you do give an example they think the example is the point. Do please go back and this time read what I wrote. I never for example suggested that the turbines were viable even in principle; I gave them as an example of what might be better than your steel plates.

"Better than steel plates" please note, does not mean "practical" or even "practicable"; it does not necessarily even mean "sane". Forgive me if I misled you into thinking that the approach threatened to tempt your local politicians into a boondoggle.

Why not instead devote your undoubted maths talents answering my actual question? I asked in effect whether steel plates of less than the size of Kansas (read "infinite" in engineering terms!) would actually work on tornados even if we could drop them accurately. Did you calculate what would happen to the conserved energy and angular momentum?

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