Can Wind Turbines Cause Tornadoes?

  • By: Preetam
  • Date: May 6, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Wind turbines have taken renewable energy to the next level. These renewable energy machines are starting to appear everywhere. 

Could it be possible that wind turbines are causing natural disasters, like tornadoes? Tornadoes are one of the most dangerous forces of nature. 

To find out if wind turbines are the cause of tornadoes, we need to consider a few things. 

Such as the impact wind turbines have on weather patterns. 

While wind turbines do impact weather. It is still unlikely that wind turbines can cause tornadoes. 

To understand why it is unlikely, we must look at the weather conditions when creating a tornado and how these large machines handle tornadoes. 

Here is everything that you need to know about wind turbines

and their impact on tornadoes.

What is a tornado? 

Tornadoes are one of the most dangerous atmospheric storms. 

These storms wreak havoc and are deadly to most things that come in their paths.

A tornado is a vertical, fiercely rotating column of air. 

Tornadoes extend from a thunderstorm in cumulonimbus clouds. 

Which extends right down to the earth. 

This storm is invisible until they have collected debris and water drops. 

Tornadoes occur in many parts of the world that also have several wind farms, including:

  • North America
  • South America
  • Europe 
  • Asia 
  • Africa
  • New Zealand 

How is a tornado created? 

The cold and dry air that collides with air that is warm and humid. 

This is the cause of a tornado. The dense cold air pushes the warm air resulting in a thunderstorm. 

The thunderstorm usually has winds that are spinning, creating a tornado. 

When the warm air rises through the cold air, and if winds extend in direction or speed, this creates an updraft. 

A rotating updraft is a mesocycle. The moving thunderstorm will pull in warm air. Which will increase the thunderstorm’s rotation speed. 

The water droplet from the mesocycle forms a funnel cloud. When the funnel cloud hits the earth, it is a tornado. 

How do wind turbines affect the weather? 

Wind turbines can change the atmospheric flow. 

Yet, they do not warm the atmosphere significantly. There is a rise in temperatures closer to the surface. 

This is a result of wind turbines redistributing the heat in the atmosphere. 

This rise in temperatures occurs in areas that are only close to the wind farm and occurs during the night. 

Not only is there a rise in the temperature of the air, but the air also dries out. 

Studies have found that there is a higher evaporation rate and lower humidity. 

This happens once the air leaves the wind farms. 

While wind turbines do affect the weather. 

Wind turbines do not have a significant enough impact to cause tornadoes, especially during the creation process of a tornado.

By affecting weather services, this will make it harder to predict tornadoes accurately. 

Other than this, wind turbines do not play any different role in influencing tornados. 

How do wind turbines handle tornadoes? 

The majority of wind turbines can withstand strong winds. 

Even as strong as the winds of a tornado. Wind turbines can stand wind gusts up to 140 miles per hour. 

When there are strong winds, the wind turbine will shut down. 

The wind turbine has an anemometer to measure the wind’s speed. 

The turbines shut down automatically.  

This happens if the wind speed exceeds approximately 55 miles per hour, which ensures that the blades of the wind turbines will not spin out of control even during a tornado. 

While wind does not cause and cannot reduce the wind speed in the event of a tornado. 

Recent studies have found that wind turbines can dissipate the wind speed of a hurricane. 

Ensuring that the destructive weed speed of a hurricane is not reached. 

This can make a huge difference and can prevent a lot of damages.

Yet, tornados and hurricanes are different. The wind turbine does not have the same effect on tornadoes. 

In conclusion, wind turbines do not create tornados. 

Rotating high-speed winds in a thunderstorm usually create tornadoes. 

Tornadoes extend from a thunderstorm that has cumulonimbus clouds to the earth. 

While wind turbines do affect the weather, such as the increase of temper in and around wind farms, wind turbines do not have a significant enough impact to cause tornadoes.

 These renewable energy machines do not contribute to the creation of tornadoes. 

However, wind turbines may disrupt the signals of the local weather systems. This could make it harder for weather systems to predict when tornadoes may occur in the area, which could severely impact local communities. 

Wind turbines can withstand harsh weather conditions. This is inclusive of tornados which have extremely high wind speeds. Wind turbines have an anemometer that measures wind speed. 

Once the speed exceeds 55 miles per hour, the turbine shuts down. This makes sure that the wind turbine blades do not spin out of control during a tornado which is a big concern. 

While wind turbines do affect the atmospheric flow and increase in temperature, wind turbines do not cause tornadoes, which is a great relief as the world moves towards wind energy. 

References: 

https://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/tornadoes/
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/tornadoes
https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/storms/how-tornadoes-form
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181004112553.htm
https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=jpur
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/myth-debunked-wind-farms-dont-alter-climate-180949701/
https://www.pnas.org/content/107/42/17899
https://www.9news.com/article/weather/what-happens-to-wind-turbines-in-a-tornado/225202514
https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/how-do-wind-turbines-survive-severe-storms