can you smell a Tornado coming

please help me



  1. 0 Votes

    As far as I can find, you can’t really smell a tornado. People seem to report that the air smells damp and musty before a tornado but there’s no for sure common smell before a tornado. It would make sense that you would feel a “calm before the storm” and that the air might feel damp, like before a heavy rain. 

  2. 0 Votes

    This appears to be an inconclusive subject. In their 1997 article “The Smell of Tornadoes,” meteorologist Howard G. Altschule and environmental professor Bernard Vonnegut point out that a tornado probably circulates clean, fresh air as it moves. (All that rushing wind, you know.) Yet they compile an impressive list of tornado observers’ personal accounts from over the years, in which the smell of sulfurous gas is a recurring theme. They cite an early-twentieth century writer’s theory that tornadoes draw up gases from ground-level sources like sewage, but they conclude, “Until atmospheric chemists provide reliable determinations of the composition of the gases associated with tornadoes, however, speculations concerning their origin will be of doubtful value.”


    However, a tornado may create scents from the objects it destroys – such as the smell of broken trees, as described by one tornado photographer:



    Other citation (via special archive):

    Altschule, Howard G., and Bernard Vonnegut. “The smell of tornadoes.” Weatherwise Apr.-May 1997: 24+. Academic OneFile. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.


    Bonus trivia:

    Vonnegut, brother of author Kurt Vonnegut, won a 1997 Ig Nobel Prize (a semi-serious award for offbeat scientific discoveries) for a report on “Chicken Plucking as Measure of Tornado Wind Speed.”

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