Pennsylvania Man thinks roundabouts are causing tornadoes…


146 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Man thinks roundabouts are causing tornadoes…

    • I used to wonder where these people came from. But that was before the Days of the Interwebs. They were hiding in the ether, mumbling to themselves. This guy is an incredible genius!!

      Does it count that my kitchen and bathroom sink drains also make the water spin when it goes down the drain? That should be taken into account, shouldn’t it?

      • The idea might have some merit if the tornados always correspond with the direction of the traffic flow, but alas they do not.
        But it is a good reason to get rid of roundabouts.

        • Demolition Derby Intersections should be outlawed. You can measure the creep of socialism by the proportion of intersections that are circular.

          • The only problem with roundabouts, is that most people aren’t smart enough to figure out how to use them.
            My average commute has dropped by over 20% thanks to the addition of roundabouts.

          • Actually Mark, a big problem is that States don’t know how to write consistent road laws on how to use them. You can have up to 8 different interpretations of the law in just one state. Silly.

      • I think it all started when LP records were discontinued.
        This left a massive vacuum in the centripetal momentum of the universe, all centered on the surface of the Earth.
        Tornadoes were the obvious outlet for all of that rotational potential energy left with nowhere to go.

      • Sara

        Years ago at the prompting of one from the northern hemisphere I did a survey of drains in our southern hemisphere lab complex. Of the 25 there 12 went one way and 13 the other. The conclusion was that the hand of the plumber over-ruled.

        • The direction of swirl was analysed by that great renaissance scientist Bill Shakespeare. He thought it was due to the Coriolanus force.

      • This kind of sloppy thinking starts with the allocation of coriolis effects to swirling in effluent water – was never right:

        Does water always drain counterclockwise?

        It is a commonly held misconception that toilet water always drains counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere because of the Coriolis force an acceleration imparted by the Earth’s rotation. › 33567-toil…

        Which Direction Does Toilet Water Swirl at the Equator? – Live Science

        • The coriolis effect is much too weak to influence the direction when water from a pressure piping system falls to the drain and disappears into it – be it a toilet, bathtub or sink.

          • I recall a tv program a while back showing tourists in an equatorial African country (possibly Kenya) being treated to a demonstration of the coriolis effect (for a small remuneration, of course). A tin bowl with a hole in the bottom was shown with water swirling in one direction as it drained, then no more than a dozen steps south into the other hemisphere, the water was shown to rotate in the opposite direction.

            Of course, the angle of the jug pouring the water into the bowl had absolutely no influence on the outcome.

    • Wow! I thought we had rubes here in Arkansas.

      Why doesn’t this guy’s family and friends tell him not to talk? If my father, brother or friend revealed himself to the world in this manner, I’d… I dunno… Geeezzzz.

  1. Well, that would explain why they have so few tornadoes in the UK: the roundabouts go in the wrong direction, and they counter, rather than reinforce, the coriolis effect. 🤔

    • … but … UK gets more tornadoes by area than any other country in the world (ties with Netherlands).

      • Well, how about that! I learned something today, in the least expected place (this article). Thank you, stevea_uk! (Not joking this time.)

        This article says, “The United States sees the most tornadoes in the world, with an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes each year. Canada is second, with around 100 per year, and all other countries combined experience another 100 to 200 tornadoes annually. Measuring by land area, the United Kingdom has a higher rate than any other country, but most of the twisters there are relatively weak.”

        • I had not heard those numbers before. Interesting, but I wonder how much of the disparity is due to the inability to detect and/or report tornadoes?

          • The Great Plains region of the US is uniquely arranged so as to make tornado production common, a situation which does not occur anywhere else in the world – at least not on that scale, certainly. Tornado’s become likely whenever a large rapidly moving cold air mass from the north collides with a very moist, warm air mass coming up from the south. In Europe, for example, movements of this kind are blocked by the Alps, in Asia, by the Himalaya, and Africa and South America generally don’t get swept by large coldfronts.

            But in North America, powerful fronts from the arctic can sweep down the plains, moving down behind the Rocky Mountains, where they collide with large tropical air masses coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. The places where these two forces collide with each other are where tornado’s happen – it is also why they predominantly happen in fall and spring, and almost never happen in summer or winter months.

          • WWS “almost never happen in summer ” That is not correct for the far north of the great plains Fargo in particular an F5 occurred on June 20th here and what Wikipedia said it ” is what Fujita reportedly called this more intense than the 1965 Palm Sunday tornadoes he surveyed, some of which he rated F5 in the Chicago Damage Area Per Path Length” Fargo season peaks around July 4. I will admit most were in late June but I have seen lesser ones occur in July and August. Here is what Minnesota DNR says about tornados in Minnesota “Minnesota have occurred during the three months of May (15%), June (37%), and July (25%).” The list for May through September in Minnesota from 1950 to 2018 is May 298, June 662, July 488, August 237 September 117, the only months in that time period Minnesota has not had tornados were December, January and February.

          • WWS writes:

            fronts from the arctic can sweep down the plains, moving down behind the Rocky Mountains, where they collide with large tropical air masses coming up from the Gulf of Mexico.

            New England gets more tornadic storms than a lot of people realize. In our case, trees generally block the view, something that causes a bit of angst within visitors from the plains.

            Here some people point out we have a similar situation with the Atlantic south of us, a decent feed from the Gulf Stream and GoM, and mountains from the Birkshires and Green Mountains of VT to help bring Canadian air down.

            Yesterday was the anniversary of the biggest of them all, the 1953 F-4 (some claim F-5) tornado in Worcester, Massachusetts.

            It had a number of firsts, including it was the first storm seen injecting water vapor into the stratosphere. A hook echo seen on radar provided confirmation of the hook echo described a couple months before in Ohio as a potential tornado signature


      • What about Swindon’s Magic Roundabout?

        That’s enough to cause either a strange chaotic pattern that will create a rift in the space-time continuum and allow the great old ones access to our universe.

        It might have already done so, but we just haven’t realised it yet.

    • So you ADMIT that you’re driving on the wrong side of the road?

      Japan wants to talk reparations!

      • nonono.. whilst most of the world drives on the right side of the road, we in the UK drive on the correct side..

        • Everyone used to drive on the left, until the damned French had their revolution. Then Napoleon went round changing as much as he could.

          Driving on the left comes from walking and riding on the left, with (if present) your lady on the left. This meant that your right arm was free to draw your sword and defend. Driving on the right removes this advantage. It is clearly much more dangerous.

          • I find it hard to unsheath my sword while driving anyway. Just saying . . .

    • The Brit reply to that “wrong direction” comment follows:

      No. We drive on the left side of the road. YOU drive on the wrong side.

    • In Australia we drive on the right side (ie., the left side) of the road, we have roundabouts too, and the Coriolis forces go in the opposite direction to those in the UK.

      But we don’t get many tornadoes here.

      • In Queensland we came across a roundabout that had traffic lights for no apparent reason .
        As for roundabouts and tornadoes the link is probably stronger than CO2 and climate change .
        But then if we were to do a graph on CO2 and rounabouts I’m sure the correlation would be amazing ,also Coral bleaching and every other known and claimed effect .

    • There must be a climatology grant available here:

      “Long term climate changes in the Milton Keynes area post roundabout development.”

      (For our non-UK based friends, MK is a town of just over 225,000 souls with over 130 roundabouts and nearly a thousand mini-roundabouts.)

      BTW I’m now very suspicious of rotating washing lines, y’know – correlation/causation.

      • At least they are finished in MK. In Basingstoke, a few more miles further west on the M3, the roundabouts and overpasses were never completed.

  2. “Pennsylvania Man thinks roundabouts are causing tornadoes…”

    Good one! I thought it was because all the cars drive on the right hand side of the road, and when they meet another car coming the opposite direction, that sets up a vortex just like the Butterfly 🦋 Effect. We need to switch to driving on the left side of the highway. 🤣

    • I seem to recall that theory was put forward a few years ago, about 40 years ago or so! 40 years & still no significant evidence or any proof of any kind! BTW, anyone ot any news on the dissappearance ofthe Arctic sea-ice yet, it’s been 6 years now & I’m still waiting! sarc!

    • hey it works;-) we rarely if ever get tornados in australia

      my pc wont play twit stuff but i can guess…
      remindedme of the totally serious lady demanding on talkback radio USA that they moved the Deer Crossing signs as making the deer cross the rd in that spot was dangerous for them.

      reckon the clip would still be on youtube

      • Yeah. I remember that one.

        Or the guy in the car with his girlfriend. He asked her something like this “If you were going 60 miles per hour, how long would it take you to drive 60 miles?” She had no clue.

    • Trailer courts attract tornadoes. They don’t have anything to do with the formation of a tornadoes, per se.

  3. Anthropogenic traffic? Of course. We should be so lucky as to live in the deterministic parallel universe rather than the random chaotic one. Now where did I put my tinfoil hat?

  4. He sounds like a perfect candidate to take over from AOC.
    A gift to the green anti car fraternity. “We must stop all vehicles from moving because they cause tornadoes”.
    With his thinking he would be a shoe in for Democratic President Candidate 2020.

    • Along with the congressman that thinks Guam might tip over if all the people went to one side of the island.

  5. What about trains passing each other at high speeds and creating vortices – oh no, we should all hide under our beds and never leave the house, it’s far worse than we thought. Mind you, I like the thought process that arrived at this latest idea.

  6. Which proves that correlation is no causation.

    Climate scientists, are you paying attention? 97% of you sound about the same as this man.

  7. What about ice skating? Lots of whirly things there. And now I think of it, I don’t trust my wife’s hair dryer anymore. Tornados by stealth.

  8. I remember, back in the early 70’s, there was actually a thing called “Vorticity Pollution”. It was actually believed that the vortices caused by passing cars enabled tornadoes to form. It seems to have been forgotten.

    • It’s silly, but not quite as silly as thinking a butterfly can affect weather anywhere.

        • Careful you don’t want to give some university researcher any ideas for a grant application. After all he would have to do is add in how Global Warming is enhancing the effect. If he did that the grant application would be a slam dunk.

          • Well there you go explaining how to do it… right after saying “don’t give them any ideas”.

  9. This isn’t the first time someone has postulated a connection between traffic pattern and tornadoes. Some idiot back in the late 1970s or early 1980s published the same crackpot theory. I wish I could come up with the citation. It was along the lines that American right hand traffic patterns reinforced the natural tendency of tornadoes to rotate counter-clockwise, and he demanded that we change to the British standard.

    • I fully understand that this might be a contentious idea, but perhaps you could provide the evidence to refute the hypothesis.

      Whorls and eddies are very easy to create in liquids, and remain for an astonishingly long time – they just seem to need a tiny nudge in the right direction to going. I would enjoy reading your refutation.

  10. Do climate models haave the resolution to observe the effects of roundabouts or are they now useless?

    • It’s all swings and roundabouts really. I hope that helps for my fellow Yanks.

  11. The problem with proving this concept is that so few cars go all the way around. Most go only halfway, which is roughly equivalent to parking, which also takes a car ten feet or so from the right-hand lane. If more cars actually went all the way around (i.e., performed a 360), we could set up anemometers at strategic places around the roundabout to check on induced winds. As it is, I can’t imagine that an actual circulation would be set up by cars slowing down to enter the roundabout, hunching over a bit to the right, sliding back the same distance left to the straight-ahead lane, and proceeding in the original direction. Just a thought, for the sciency types.

    • John M. Ware: “The problem with proving this concept is that so few cars go all the way around. “

      Well, if you’re going to get all scientificky about it, cars are entering and leaving at all points of the roundabout. Although none but the rare, totally confused driver goes all the way around, the sum of the cars entering and leaving is what creates the vortices that create the tornadoes.

      Let’s get our science right, shall we?

  12. Roundabouts are creating more problems than tornadoes by itself. Who in sane mind would voluntarily reduce capacity of 4 crossing roads from 5000 cars/hour to 1200 cars/hour.
    And suddenly on main road you have T section…
    Not last roundabouts are very ecological.
    Average passenger car need around 0,05l – 5 deciliters of fuel to slow down in front of roundabout and speed up after.
    20 tonnes truck needs 1 liter of fuel to slow down and accelerate. And it is doing that so slowly, that if passenger car is behind truck, it loses around 1km of distance.

    • Well, on my drive to/from work, there is a particular intersection. It’s only a three-way intersection, and it’s in a “rural” area, but it got a lot of traffic. With the traffic lights, it got regularly backed up. There were times it took me ten minutes to get through it in the evenings.

      They put in a two-lane roundabout instead, with one through lane going from east to west. Now, the most I have to wait when going through there is maybe ten seconds, most of the time I don’t have to wait at all. So I’d say that roundabout has increased traffic flow tremendously in all directions. But you occasionally get the odd A-hole that doesn’t feel he needs to yield to traffic in the roundabout, or the idiot who stops when there is no traffic in the roundabout.

      • Maximum capacity of single double lane road is around 6000 cars/h. 1.2 second between cars in each lane.
        Maximum capacity of 4 way stop is around 900 cars/h (one car each 4 seconds when it is fully clogged). Each incoming lane capped at 900 cars/h.
        Maximum capacity of single lane roundabout is around 1200-1600 cars/h. Each lane capped at 1800 cars/h. But after yielding collapses to 900 cars/h from lane with creation of congestion. Over 1600 cars/h from any direction it collapses.
        Maximum capacity of single line traffic light X intersection is around 1800 cars/h. 4 seconds/car from 2 directions in average.
        Maximum capacity of traffic light X intersection where single lane changes to double lane in intersection is around 3600 cars/h.
        Maximum capacity of X intersection without lights main/side road is up to 6000 cars/h. Only disadvantage for side road.

        From capacity point of view double lane traffic light intersection is better option than roundabout. It needs basically same area as roundabout but it is 3 times more effective than roundabout.
        Roundabouts works only in narrow window of capacity 500 – 1600 cars/h. Less than 1000 cars/h main/side road intersection performs better. More than 1600 main/side still works, or double lane light intersection is better.
        Double lane roundabouts are better than single lane but not two times better. They can be somewhere around 2700 cars/h, they are huge and not pleasant to drive, confusing too.

      • with traffic light you still have 50% chance not to stop. With roundabout not. You are still slowing even without traffic. I’m usually slowing from 100km/h to 20km/h. Losing 96% of my kinetic energy 1/2mv2. Kinetic energy equals to second power of speed, this is why it is harder to slow from 140km /h to 100 than from 40 to 0.

  13. I heard about 50 years ago that driving on the right in the northern hemisphere seeds whirlwinds. The problem with this theory was that Britain actually has more tornadoes than the USA.

  14. The mind boggles at the implications regarding air conditioner cooling fan towers. All is not lost though as we could get cl;ever and use our brains here a bit, and install contra-rotating merry-go-rounds above all roundabouts, thus negating the tendency towards a catastrophic total-perspective-vortex exposure.

  15. Let’s see….I know – hula-hoops….square dancing (which is really going “round and round” when they do the circle home)….merry-go-rounds and other carnival rides, skating rinks…

  16. I can see it too, all those cars going in the same direction causing a vortex that creates tornadoes! Roundabouts, the end of the human race! No wonder we only have 7 years left, or is it 20 years, or 40 years, or a century?

  17. Modern large aircraft wings produce more and bigger vortices than puny traffic on roundabouts.
    There is an attribution problem. Nobody has shown that past tornados required an existing vortex as a seed to enable them. Geoff.

  18. The man needs to explain how they rotate opposite of each other. Roundabouts turn counterclockwise whereas most tornadoes spin clockwise

  19. John Isaacs, a renown oceanographer at UC San Diego, thought something similar–that cars passing one another on the right were putting cyclonic vorticity into the atmosphere. Published a note on the topic back in the 1960s. Even smart people have a few loopy ideas.

    • Yes, I recall a similar publication where they showed that more tornadoes occur near interstate highways. Of course, there are more people to see tornadoes on interstate highways, so it’s probably an observational bias. Even if cars passing each other generate positive vorticity between them, they generate negative vorticity on the outside, and the net effect over, say, a couple hundred yards is zero, I believe.

      • Yes, averaged over a hundred yards it has to be near zero. Thus Feynman’s dictum that if you don’t take an argument to completion you can prove all sorts of things that aren’t so.

  20. I’ve used the line for about twenty years.
    Central banks are to financial markets as tornadoes are to trailer courts.

  21. jmorpuss will chime in here shortly with a recommendation to see the “Solving Tornadoes” self-published book by the nitwit (James McGinn) who fails to understand how the ‘water cycle’ enters into the picture in combination with clashing air masses …

    N.B. water cycle – the cycle of processes by which water circulates between the earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and land, involving precipitation as rain and snow, drainage in streams and rivers, and return to the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration.

    • Well, since a German invented the automobile, and they drive on the right side of the road, I’d say you are the odd men out.

      • Yes, but if you look at the Benz vehicle you can see the driver’s position is on the vehicle centreline.

        Ergo Benz was either a fence sitter or deeply concerned about massive tornadoes ripping through the Black Forrest, and hence refused to set a left/right precedence for safety reasons.

        Also, I am lead to believe that the worlds first legal definition on the left/right issue was made in London in regards to traffic crossing London Bridge. It is from this historical declaration that the folk song ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ clearly springs, for if one reads deep into the lyrics there are clear indications of the grave risks of right side of the bridge created vortexes producing catastrophic failure. The British were clearly not going to stand for a constant cycle of vortex and repair and as a result made a grand effort to ensure their children understood the bally dangers from a ripe young age.

        By extension it can then be clearly shown that this early cultural training has lead to a state of affairs in modern Britain where tornadoes simply are not a problem, although the fact it now rains constantly is usually swept under the carpet.

        And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how SCIENCE! is done.

        Probably… 🙂

  22. UK folks should give us props. We were late in adopting but saw no reason to change well established term.
    Also, first US traffic light – Indiana. First US modern roundabout – Indiana

  23. In the “Failed to Explain” category (by the ’roundabout theory’, or the “Solving Tornadoes” theory as well) – we have dust devils, and where I saw the most dust devils were out in the western US, under clear, sunny skies over the desert landscape.

    Extreme example of a dust devil – “Weather Gone Viral: Boy Tossed Into Air by Dust Devil”

  24. Can’t be. Tornadoes rotate clockwise, traffic circles (roundabouts) go counter-clockwise (in the USA).

  25. First, I need to restore the correct terminology of “traffic circles”, which everyone wants to call “roundabouts”. Second, traffic circles are closely related to crop circles, except they can’t form over unpaved fields, but generally require asphalt. I have personally seen strange vehicles on the traffic circles, which must be the ones creating them. 😉

    • Reminds me, in a back to front way, of the alien reporting back to his superiors after a visit to earth;
      “Yes, sir, they enjoy the smell of their oceans so much that they have vast arrays of propellers blowing the sea air around their world.”

      What other logical reason would a member of an advanced civilisation possibly think of for these constructions.

    • In the USA, I think the term has always been “traffic circle.” But my TomTom (European company) calls it a “roundabout,” and I’m not sure but I think Garmin (U.S./Swiss company) does the same, which probably means the Brits are going to win this argument.

      • Oops! Correcting myself: TomTom calls it a “rotary.”
        Thank you, Juan, for reminding me.

        What does Garmin call it?
        What does Google Earth call it?

    • We invented roundabouts and we named them. There’s a regrettable tendency amongst Americans to rename things according to what they are used for, rather than what they are.

    • I visited Boston a few years ago. There were signs all over town advising: “Rotary ahead.” Took me a while to figure out how one town could have so many service clubs….

  26. Well, it’s not the stupidest thing I ever heard, but it’s close. First prize goes to a young lad (21) and his girl friend (19) that I hired to help me move some furniture out of a storage locker near Edwards AFB to a new apartment in Arizona. Passing through the wind farm at Banning pass he asked what all those big propellers on towers were for. Unable to suppress my natural tendency to be a smart-a$$, I replied that it was an experiment and when the smog in LA got too bad they would turn them on and suck the smog out into the high desert where it wouldn’t bother anybody. Their only question was, “Does it get all of it out, or only a little?” They actually BELIEVED it! And I learned a valuable lesson about the dangers of being a smart-a$$.

  27. We could test some of these posted ‘theories’ by going to nascar races. They love to go round and round to the left!

  28. Ha, ha. Here in the UK we have thousands of roundabouts everywhere, and tornadoes are virtually unknown.

  29. I have a corollary social theory here. The reason that the UK is so much more socialist than the US is that your traffic engineers make it very easy to make a Left turn, and devilishly difficult to make a turn to the Right.

    Here in the Rebel Territories, it is the opposite. Very difficult to make a left turn. Case in point is my city.

    For a while, we had “suicide left turn lanes” – they reversed the direction and banned left turns depending on whether it was morning or evening rush hour. Then we have the mix of preceding and following signals, that seem to have very little reasoning as to where they put them. NOW they are busy remodeling intersections to make it so you have to go through the light, then make a U-turn, get across three lanes of oncoming traffic, and then make a Right turn if you want to go Left.

    Not all that many traffic circles, though; a few on residential streets (mostly around the University, where they really don’t know which way they’re supposed to go on any one day, especially when they don’t get copied with the appropriate ideological memo).

    • In NZ, if turning left, you have to give way to traffic turning right in the opposite lane. Then there are 3 turning rules at an intersection depending on the road markings.

    • Interesting article. Unfortunately the author has conflated by use of the word denier the “flat earthers” with climate sceptics. The implication being that both should be treated with equal ridicule and that his own opinions on climate change are elevated because our world is so obviously a spheroid.

  30. The coriolis effect is much too weak to influence the direction when water from a pressure piping system falls to the drain and disappears into it – be it a toilet, bathtub or sink:

    Ask any plumber.

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