Tornado Bottle

Bookmark added to your notes.
View Notes

What is a Tornado?

A tornado is a rigorously rotating column of air, one side of which is in contact with the ground and the other side with a cumuliform cloud. It is often visible as a funnel cloud.

For an air column to be classified as a tornado it must be in contact with both the ground and the cloud base.

A tornado is a rotating column of air, the bottom part of which remains in contact with the ground, and the upper part attached to a cumulus cloud.

The windstorm caused by a tornado is called a twister, whirlwind or cyclone.

The word cyclone is used in meterology to describe an area of low-pressure. The wind of a cyclone blows in the counterclockwise direction in the northern hemisphere, and it blows in the clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere.

(Image to be added soon)

(The photo of a tornado)

Tornadoes occur in different shapes and sizes. The usual shape of a tornado is like a funnel originating from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud. There is a cloud with a huge amount of rotating debris and dust below it.

Most of the tornadoes have wind speeds less than 180 kmph, and they cover an area of about 80 meters. They usually travel for a few kilometers before dissipating completely.

The extreme tornadoes can reach the wind speed of about 450 kmph which can cause immense devastation. Those tornadoes have an area of about 3 km in diameter. They can travel hundreds of kilometers.

Characteristics of Tornadoes

i. Tornadoes are usually accompanied by thunderstorms, high speed wind, heavy rain, and sometimes hail.

ii. Once a tornado hits ground, it can remain for a few seconds to as much as some hours before calming.

iii. The size of an average twister is about 600 feet wide, and it can move with a speed of 60 kilometers per hour. Most of the twisters don't even travel 10 kilometers before completely dying out.

iv. The massive tornadoes which are capable of widespread destruction can travel as fast as 450 kilometers per hour.

What Causes Tornadoes?

Tornadoes are caused due to the difference in atmospheric pressure, which causes air to move faster. It is caused by thunderstorms that have fast-moving winds.

There is one in a thousand possibilities for a storm to become a supercell, and only one out of five to six supercells become a tornado.

Tornadoes can take place in any time of year. Most of the tornadoes are found in early spring in the Gulf Of Mexico.

This is followed by jet streams, the activity of tornadoes increases as it swings farther North. The month of May generally has more tornadoes as compared to any other time of year. April's twisters are also much more violent.

The occurrence of tornadoes are common in the summer season.

Tornado Science Projects

Tornadoes can be made in a bottle by using science experiment equipment. Items like dishwashing liquid, glitter, and a bottle are required to make a mini tornado in a bottle. This tornado will resemble real tornadoes that we see in weather channels. 

Follow the instructions mentioned below to make a tornado and enjoy the cool water vortex.

(Image to be added soon)

Tornado in a Bottle

You can make your own tornado in a bottle science project. You can use it many times whenever you need, to enjoy the tornado.

(Image to be added soon)

Tornado in a Bottle Materials

Materials Required

  • Clear bottle or a shatterproof container with a lid

  • Dish soap

  • Water

  • Glitter or food coloring (as this will make it easier to see the tornado)


  1. Fill your container to ¾ of its capacity with clean water.

  2. Add a squirt of dish soap in it, and the glitter as well.

  3. Seal the container tightly.

  4. Move the bottle rapidly in a circular motion. You will observe that the water begins swirling inside the bottle. Watch your tornado and enjoy it.

Try to repeat it by using different quantities of water. Notice if the amount of water in the bottle has an effect over the size and speed of the tornado.

What's Happening?

When you spin the bottle in a circular motion, it creates a water vortex that looks like a mini-tornado. The water spins rapidly around the center of the vortex due to the centripetal force. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and waterspouts (a tornado over the water surface) commonly have a vortex.

If you want to create a large tornado, try using a bigger bottle. It will also be easier to observe.

The twister in the bottle is created by the water spinning towards the center of the bottle, or vortex.

This is a good activity to observe, and even to teach others about a tornado to your children, and the precautions that you can take during a tornado warning.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How Dangerous is a Tornado?

Tornadoes are very dangerous. It has a wind speed of about 359 kilometers per hour, which can break houses and even lift heavy things like cars off the ground. 

The flying debris also causes much harm to people.

2. How Do You Know If a Tornado is Near?

A tornado is visible even from longer distances. A strong and persistent rotation of the base of a cloud is a sign of a tornado. 

Whirling dust and debris beneath the clouds, without any funnel is also a sign of a tornado. Fast wind shifts are also a sign of a tornado.

3. How Do Tornadoes Kill?

The flying debris of a tornado, when it falls over the house, vehicles cause people to die including many other major injuries. The debris may include trees, parts of buildings, car and other objects.

4. What Are Some Warning Signs That a Tornado May Occur?

These are the warning signs during the development of tornadoes:

  1. A dark, often greenish, sky.

  2. Large hail often in the absence of rain.

  3. Wall clouds or an approaching cloud of debris.

  4. The drying of wind and the air becoming still is also a sign of tornadoes.

  5. When a tornado lands, loud roars in the skies are heard.

  6. A cloud of debris whirling in the air.