Movie Reality Check

The Day After Tomorrow: Tornadoes in Los Angeles

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In this segment, we will be discussing the differences between the movie and the actual thing. This week, we will be looking at the day after tomorrow. The day after tomorrow is a movie about the world ending (apocalypse) which is shown as a lot of natural disasters happening at once on a very large scale. This movie was produced in Los Angeles.
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We will be comparing the movie to actual US, specifically, tornado alley, and there is an image of the tornado frequency chart above this paragraph. You can see that a lot of the tornadoes are recorded in the eastern US, especially the red parts. The large number of tornadoes nearby the eastern part of US is called tornado alley. As the film is produced in Los Angeles, if you look towards the left side of the map, it shows that there is a yellow square next to Los Angeles, which means that EF3 and above tornadoes can form there, it is just quite rare. In the movie The Day After Tomorrow, there is a scene in LA in which LA is destroyed by 3 very large tornadoes all at once. As you can imagine, this is rather far-fetched as I don't think that many people have ever seen three tornadoes within 1-2 km of each other. And that's not where it ends, as there are not one, not two, but THREE of these massive twisters in LA at once. There is a picture below this paragraph from the movie.


That's not very normal, according to the above map.

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How are they created?

So, How are tornadoes created and what evidence do we have to back up the chart?

In this specific instance, we are talking about the US.



One of the most important processes to cause a tornado is a supercell. A supercell is most likely to form a tornado under specific conditions. Rising air is also needed, the supercell makes the upward flow of air very strong, because of that, moisture forms at the base of the supercell, and it allows a vortex to form, at this point, it is called a mesocyclone. A wind shear, another necessary part, (rear flank downdraft) goes around the tornado and creates an air temperature difference, the mesocyclone’s lower part becomes thinner and longer, which also increases the wind speed and when it reaches the ground, it connects with the storm which created it and the storm starts spinning with the vortex.


The cold air comes in from the top, Canada, and the warm air comes from the bottom, Mexico. As Los Angeles is located towards the left side, the wind is not quite there as much as it is in tornado alley.

Realistic or not?

Finally, this is what it comes down to.


The above points prove that the tornado scene in Los Angeles in the day after tomorrow is not very accurate and may have been biased due to hollywood being in Los Angeles, in this location it is almost impossible to have 3 tornadoes going on at once. It's not realistic, but it might not be intended to be realistic, as it is just a movie and the supposed "apocalypse" is occurring. This scene is not realistic at all, as the other scenes in the movie, but it is fun to watch.