Amidst the tragic and horrific tornado craze lately, we here at EarthGarage were curious as to whether there have been any scientific studies aimed at the connection to traffic pollution and tornadoes. Well, amidst the claims and research about climate change (which is different than short-scale weather anomalies), yes, there have also been studies like this one to decipher whether our daily commute may actually cause the weather to change in the short-term. Scientists have analyzed summertime storm activity in the eastern U.S. from 1995 – 2009 and discovered that hailstorms and tornadoes occurred at the rate of 20% above average during the middle of the week and about 20% below average on the weekend.

According to the study, “The team investigated Environmental Protection Agency air-quality monitoring data and noted that human-made, summertime air pollution over the eastern U.S. peaks midweek. The cycle is linked to more human-made pollution created during the five-day workweek, such as commuters driving to and from work.” Pollution supercharges hailstorms storms, the article says, because moisture gathers around pollutant particulates, which leads to more cloud droplets. The droplets get lofted into higher, colder air, leading to more abundant and larger sized hail. However, the tornado connection is a bit more complicated:

“First, the large icy particles of hail that pollutants help seed possesses less surface area than an equal mass of smaller, non-pollutant induced, particles of water or ice. As such, these large particles evaporate more slowly, and are not as likely to suck heat from the air to evaporate. This makes it easier for warm air to help form a ‘supercell,’ the cloud type that usually produces tornadoes and large hail.”

Now, we don’t mean to get too technical and meteorological here, but sometimes it takes a little scientific evidence to leverage our EarthGarage core values of using alternative fuel sources, greener cars, and reducing emissions. We believe it can be both profitable for businesses and money-saving for us to be environmentally conscious about how we get from A to B on a daily basis. As always, we encourage our viewers to get regular maintenance checks, carpool when possible, and use green products in your vehicle to reduce your carbon footprint. Together with these practices, we hope to reduce the frequency and strength of these horrific and costly storms in the future.


EarthGarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.