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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke July 5, 2024

No way to spin this. Roundabouts don’t cause tornadoes

If Your Time is short

  • Roundabouts don’t cause tornadoes, according to a weather expert. 

Warm moist air near the ground, cooler dry air above it and a change in wind speed are "key atmospheric ingredients that lead to potential instability," according to the National Weather Service.

What the federal agency doesn’t mention in writing about "nature’s most violent storms"? Roundabouts. 

And yet, a video claims "roundabouts are causing tornadoes."

"We didn’t have tornadoes here until we started putting in the traffic circles," a man says in the video. "Cause on account of you wanna know why? When people go round and round in circles, it causes disturbance in the atmosphere and causes tornadoes."

An Instagram post sharing the video was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

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The audio of the man discussing roundabouts and tornadoes comes from a 2019 call-in program on WNEP-TV, a Moosic, Pennsylvania, ABC News affiliate. 

His theory drew local and national news coverage. It even inspired a song by The Band Steele, which wrote, "I told you haters, roundabouts make tornaders, and my F-150 just made an F-5. You think I’m crazy but the cows are flying." 

But was this anonymous caller correct? 

In 2021, car publication Jalopnik asked Dennis Mersereau, who wrote "The Extreme Weather Survival Manual," to weigh in. 

"Cars would never be able to start a tornado," Mersereau said. "Tornadoes start with rotation up in a thunderstorm and stretch down toward the ground. … You might be able to start a dust devil, which begins at the surface and stretches upward. Cars wouldn’t be able to start one by driving around in circles, though. Even with trucks, you wouldn’t get the focused spin needed to start that kind of small scale rotation."

We rate claims roundabouts cause tornadoes False.

 

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No way to spin this. Roundabouts don’t cause tornadoes

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