By: Aryan Bellani 09N


Hollywood disaster movies are a popular genre of film. This article will explore the realism of the scenes shown in the film The Day After Tomorrow. The film was produced in 2004 and was directed by Roland Emmerich.

I find it very useful to watch films such as The Day After Tomorow when trying to understand natural disasters. This is because they make you feel like you have experienced an actual disaster thus helping you describe what the disaster feels like. In this instance, I have based my article on Tornadoes.


The location where tornadoes usually occur is in Tornado Alley. This is because Tornado Alley is located in a very large flat area. This sort of terrain is ideal for tornadoes as the cold air from Canada meets the warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. It is from these two masses of air that tornadoes are formed.

In the film, the hazard was shown to be occurring in Los Angeles. This is an inaccurate location for tornadoes to occur as Los Angeles is classified as a Zone 1 section of America. However, there is still a possibility that tornadoes may form there due to the desert landscape surrounding the city.

The location map below shows that the tornado in the film can happen in Los Angeles, but it is not very likely. The map also shows the areas in America that are most prone to tornadoes.

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How are tornadoes formed?

Tornadoes are formed as a result of 3 required components. These components are warm moist air, cold air and atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure is a condition that promotes the vertical movement of air. This process causes the warm air to collide with the cold air and create a funnel cloud. This funnel cloud is commonly referred to as a tornado.
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The diagram and picture above show how tornadoes are formed as well as the destruction that is caused by them. Tornadoes can last up to over an hour. However, most tornadoes last no more than 10 minutes.

Case Study

One real life example of a tornado is the Joplin Tornado. The Joplin tornado occurred in Joplin, Missouri in the year 2011. Some effects of the tornado included mass destruction and the loss of homes for thousands of people. The Joplin Tornado caused 158 deaths, 2.8 billion dollars worth of damage and was an EF5 tornado. An EF5 tornado is the highest the damage scale can reach. The tornado was also responsible for 16,656 insurance claims that totalled to a cost of 2.2 billion dollars.
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Attached above is a map of the total destruction caused by the tornado. This map shows the areas affected worst as well as the places that were hit.

Film Clip vs Reality

The film clip is similar to real life hazards in a number of ways including the destruction caused, the reaction of people on the ground and the tornadoes joining together to create one big tornado.

The event during the clip at 0:10 seconds shows the reaction of people when looking at the tornado. This is typical because people are often shocked by something so devastating happening at such short notice.

Another expected aspect of the film that occurs in reality is that people are stopping to take photos and videos instead of trying to find shelter. However, this is controversial as it does not apply to the majority of people.

There are also some less realistic aspects of the film. Some examples of this are, that people are going toward the tornado to record on live TV instead of finding shelter, the helicopter was very close to the tornado and should have been sucked in, instead of being able to hover right beside it.

Another less realistic example of this is seen at 0:22 seconds where you can see all of the different tornadoes. However, I find this unrealistic as there are too many tornadoes forming at once. This is an unexpected effect because tornadoes are also very unlikely to form in Los Angeles in the first place.

The Day After Tomorrow (1/5) Movie CLIP - Tornadoes Destroy Hollywood (2004) HD


In conclusion, the clips shown in the film are unrealistic. I think that the tornado seemed unrealistic because of the magnitude of damages it caused. Compared to the tornadoes shown in other films, I find the tornadoes in this film to be less realistic. This is because in some movies they use actual footage of tornadoes that have happened in real life. I also think that the tornadoes in other movies are more realistic because of where they are located. Furthermore, the scale of the tornadoes are not exaggerated as much as shown in The Day after Tomorrow. I think that Hollywood chooses to exaggerate natural hazards because it more appealing to the audiences.