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Meteotron Jet Engines Create Clouds and Tornadoes

A French scientist, J. Dessens of the Observatoire du Puy de Dome, Clermont University, reports in Nature the discovery by accident of a way to make tornadoes artificially – and therefore of a means of studying the conditions under which they arise.

On a plateau in the south of France the Observatory built an apparatus which was originally intended for making artificial cumulus clouds. It is called the Meteotron and consists of an array of 100 burners spaced over an area rather larger than a football field. Fuel is pumped into them and, together, they consume about a ton of oil a minute, producing the very considerable power of some 700,000 kilowatts. In operation the device produces a think column of black smoke that permits observations of the resulting upward air currents. [1]

Meteotron Fire Tornado: Part I

Intense small-scale vortices are always associated with the fluctuation of thermal plumes. More rarely, such plumes can be generated by fire, which generates the fire tornado.

Church et al. (1980) reports the analysis of vortexes produced in the experiment called Meteotron. This experiment was carried out at the Plateau de Lannemezan, France, between 1978 and 1979 (in this work, observations date from 1961), by the Henri Dessens Atmospheric Research Center.

The experiment consisted of a structure of approximately 140m X 140m X 60m in size with 105 large torches, arranged in three spiral frames, which generated a total of 1000 MW of heat. A large set of instruments was installed in the vicinity of the plume base to measure characteristics such as convergence and average vorticity. [2]

Media Gallery


"Cloud-making experiment reaps a whirlwind." NewScientist, 1962, 2015.
André. "Tornado de Fogo no Meteotron: Parte I-II." Papo De Meteoro - Weather Blog, October 2009. •
Alamaro, Moshe. "Multiple “Meteotron” Jet Engines Used in the USSR in the 1970s for Successful Cloud formation Experiments." MIT University, 2015.
Berne, L. "Meteotron - A Factory of Clouds." Translation of an article by L. Berne in the Russian-language periodical Tekhnika - Molodezni (Technology for Youth), No 12, December 1961, pages 28 - 30.
"Firing up a rainstorm." Popular Science, Vol. 185, No. 2, August 1964, page 47.
"Anti-hurricane technology." The Economist, 2005.

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