Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Effect of vorticity pollution by motor vehicles on tornadoes


THE recorded annual incidence of tornadoes in the United States has increased steadily and dramatically in the past four decades, by at least a factor of six1. We have examined the thesis that the development of widespread motor vehicle traffic in the United States over the last 40 yr has perturbed atmospheric vorticity in such a way as to exacerbate the tornado incidence, principally by the introduction of cyclonic vorticity. Surprisingly, both the analysis and the evidence support the thesis.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. US Dept of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA's Climatological Data, National Summary, 24, no. 13 (1973).

  2. Delury, G. E. (ed.), World Almanac and Book of Facts (Doubleday, New York, 1973).

  3. US Dept of Commerce, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Data tapes, National Severe Storms Forecast Center, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

ISAACS, J., STORK, J., GOLDSTEIN, D. et al. Effect of vorticity pollution by motor vehicles on tornadoes. Nature 253, 254–255 (1975).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing