How to make a tornado in a jar with Storm Center 7’s Kirstie Zontini

It is Severe Weather Awareness Week and with kids at home, it is a great opportunity to learn about severe weather and do some hands-on activities. Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini has a way to build a tornado in a jar and a simple acronym for your kids to learn to stay safe during storms.

  • Glass jar with label removed
  • Water
  • Hand soap or dish soap
  • Vinegar (any kind)

>>Make a cloud in a jar with your kids


  1. Fill your jar with water
  2. Add 1 or 2 pumps of soap
  3. Add 1 cap full of vinegar
  4. Replace the lid, flip it over and swirl the jar quick (lid-side down)
  5. Watch as a tornado appears!!

>> #SkyWitness7 is here...and everything astronomy

You need thunderstorms for tornadoes to form, but not all thunderstorms produce tornadoes! Conditions need to be just right. There needs to be lots of moisture, instability, and the winds need to change speed and direction with height. The wind shear can create a horizontal cylinder of rotating air.

>>What are the ingredients for severe weather?

A strong storm will lift that cylinder into the storm stretching it and spinning even faster. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air. It extends from a storm thunderstorm and can cause damage.

>>Severe Weather Awareness Week: When do we see the most severe weather? 

To stay safe, teach your kids this simple word...DUCK.

>>Severe Weather Awareness Week: Lightning safety

Having a tornado safety plan in place will help you and your family stay prepared when severe weather strikes. When a tornado warning has been issued it is important that you take shelter immediately. The lowest level in your home such as a basement offers the best protection during a tornado.

Once in the basement or the lowest interior room, getting under a sturdy table or workbench will add more protection. Don’t forget to protect your head. If you do not have a basement, a small interior room such as a closet or bathroom will work as well. Grabbing pillows, blankets, or even mattresses will help protect you from flying debris. It is also extremely important to stay away from windows and doors.

If you are in a mobile home, it is best to leave before the severe weather approaches. Mobile homes are not safe during a tornado. Seek a strong building where you can take advantage of a basement or an interior room where it will provide better protection.

Another dangerous place to avoid during a tornado is taking shelter under an overpass. Wind speeds are much higher under an overpass creating and you could be exposed to flying debris. A simplistic way to remember tornado safety tips is to think of the word DUCK. There is a special meaning behind each letter. It goes like this:

D: Get down to the lowest level

U: Get under something sturdy and safe

C: Cover your head

K: Keep there until the storm passes

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