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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 14, 2019

No, a tornabow isn't a real thing

On the spectrum of weather events you have your double rainbows (real) and your sharknados (fake). How about those tornabows, though?

"Rare event when a rainbow and tornado meet," reads a Feb. 13 Facebook post featuring an image of tornado and rainbow colliding, and the cyclone reflecting the rainbow’s colors. "This occurrence is called a tornabow."  

The post, which was shared more than 1,300 times by Feb. 14, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) More than a few commenters were skeptical the picture was real, though.

"Not sure about this picture," one person wrote.

"Sharktornabow," someone else said.

Susan Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service, told us the folks over at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration haven't heard of a "tornabow" before. 

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"And this photo looks like it's been digitally altered rather than a photo of a real weather event," she said.

We asked Jeffrey Frame, a teaching assistant professor in the atmospheric sciences department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The term "tornabow" is "100% fake," he wrote in an email. And, he said, the picture is, too.

"Rainbows form because different wavelengths of visible light (different colors) are bent at slightly different angles as they pass through water droplets, always resulting in an arc in the sky," he said. "Tornadoes, though powerful, are completely incapable of sucking up light."

He pointed us to, a website for a former e-publication that called itself a "journal for diverse humans."

The image of the so-called "tornabow" is featured, only it’s described as a "Photoshop manipulation" and "digital artwork" by Corey Cowan.

We rate this post Pants on Fire!

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The intersection of a rainbow and tornado is called a "tornabow."
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Our Sources

Facebook post, Feb. 13, 2019

Email interview with Jeffrey Frame, teaching assistant professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Feb. 14, 2019, visited Feb. 14, 2019

Email interview with Susan Buchanan, director of public affairs, National Weather Service, Feb. 14, 2019

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No, a tornabow isn't a real thing

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