February 24, 2024

Good storm and tornado movies are thrilling, have a powerful storyline, awesome effects, and can maybe teach you a thing or two about what to do and what not to do should a tornado strike. And they make you very glad you’re wrapped up safe and warm indoors on a cold and rainy night.

Some of these movies may not be terribly accurate and some may verge on “so bad they’re good”, but every single one of them is entertaining and worth a watch. My first ever storm movie was 1996’s Twister, with Helen Hunt and Pill Paxton, and it’ll always hold a speical place in my heart.

1. Atomic Twister (2002)

Image Credit: FilmRise.

IMDb 4.0 – Action, Drama, Sci-Fi Director: Bill Corcoran Writer: Ron McGee Cast: Sharon Lawrence (Corrine Maguire), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Deputy Jake Hannah), Carl Lewis (Security Man Stu) Let’s start with a nuclear power plant and, say, throw in a tornado (surprise, surprise) to make things interesting in this small town in West Tennessee.

Don’t worry; we have Sharon Lawrence running the nuclear plant and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as a deputy working to save the day. But can they? Don’t be fooled by the first few minutes of this movie. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood meets Babe opening quickly turns into the disaster sequence you want to see. My favorite lines from the movie are: “Great, we are in a nuclear power plant, and we can’t get power.” “This is no time for irony, Potter.” Speaking of irony, one particular and most appropriate game finds its way into the movie. I have no idea how it has never been featured in any other tornado disaster flick.

Kudos to the writer or director who included this scene. The drama is intense with this one. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes while you hopefully still stay on the ground. The film is very loosely based on the F2 tornado that hit the Davis-Besse nuclear power Station in Ohio in 1998.

2. Tornado Warning (2012)

Image Credit: Mill Creek Entertainment.

IMBd 3.1 – Action, Adventure Director: Jeff Burr Writer: Paul A Birkett Cast: Stacey Asaro (Kelly Walker), Marcus Lyle Brown (Sheriff Con), and Jeff Fahey (Judd Walker) The government. Are they there to help? Or is this some nefarious conspiracy? Is the local police in on it also?

Tornado Warning is a serious tale of political intrigue with high-stakes worldwide consequences. Okay, maybe not really…mostly. This movie does move in directions that are so unpredictable you might consider the title completely misleading. The movie is known by another name, but it is a huge spoiler, so don’t look for it before you watch it. Rest assured; there are tornados in this.

The writer obviously had free reign to take this screenplay, “Where no tornado has gone before.” I will not spoil this storyline for you, but wow, is it something else that is definitely worth watching once? Favorite lines: “There is no plan. You are just making this stuff up as you go along and hoping this whole thing will blow over.” “Blow over. Oh, that is clever. Be careful, sheriff, because clever isn’t always smart.”

3. Category 6: Day of Destruction (2004)

Image Credit: CBS.

IMDb 5.3Action, Drama, Sci-Fi Director: Dick Lowry Writer: Matt Dorf Cast: Thomas Gibson (Mitch Benson), Nancy McKeon (Amy Harkin), Chandra West (Rebecca Kerns), Brian Markinson (Chris Haywood) Since the days of Airport and The Towering Inferno, TV has been the home of major disaster films.

CBS returns to this tradition with the 3-hour miniseries Category 6: Day of Destruction. This superstorm, consisting of 3 storms converging on Chicago, will wreak havoc on the city. Throw in some power outages, life-threatening extreme heat, and Randy Quaid, and this is definitely worth watching. Nancy McKeon is outstanding as a reporter trying to gather all the facts and expose the truth about the city’s power issues. Brian Dennehy is impressive as the head of the National Weather Administration’s Severe Weather Center.

Randy Quaid provides some comic relief while nearly reprising his Independence Day role as the wild storm chaser Tornado Tommy. Dianne West convincingly plays the tough-as-nails Energy Secretary who does what it takes to help Chicago obtain the desperately needed resources. Yes, this move is long. Try watching it in 2 parts, just as it was presented. Yes, the CGI is dated now, but at the time, it was as good as any “big-budget movie.” Yes, there is a chance people might not like all the dialogue. Everyone should watch it anyway. Favorite line: “ “Whoaaa baby, we are going for a ride!”

4. Into the Storm (2014)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

IMDb 5.8 – Action, Adventure, Drama Director: Steven Quale Writer: John Swetnam Stars: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh Storm Chasers. Sarah Wayne Callies. Sorry folks, there aren’t any zombies in this film, Walking Dead fans.

Sarah is the weather expert for a hi-tech storm chaser team that lost their only sponsor. It is now or never for them to get results to keep them afloat. The ”found footage” style from different viewpoints is mixed in with a cinematic camera, which can sometimes be confusing. The CGI is outstanding, with some of the best-looking tornados on film. One scene, in particular, is really cool when a character goes up into the eye of the storm.

Of course, there is also the airport scene, which was part of the trailer. I am sure the plane passengers received some bonus miles or a coupon for their unexpected short flights and trouble. The Titus is a fantastic Storm Chaser vehicle that can even anchor down into the ground. It has a viewing turret that can spin 360 degrees to view those oh-so-close tornados trying to sneak up on the chasers. Favorite line: “Grab a broom. It is like a Zombie Apocalypse out there.”

5. Night of the Twisters (1996)

Image Credit: The Family Channel.

IMDb 5.8 – Action, Drama, Family Director: Timothy Bond Writer: Sam Graham and Chris Hubbell Cast: Devon Sawa, Amos Crawley, John Schneider This made-for-TV movie is loosely based on Ivy Ruckman’s book of the same name.

The book was a generalization of an actual event that involved seven tornados that hit Grand Island, Nebraska, in 1980. The story surrounds a family and how circumstances split them up. They struggled to find out what happened to each other and try to find one another.

Luckily the son, who occasionally had trouble taking responsibility, took it by doing something illegal and ignoring a police officer. Because that is what responsibility is all about. Random acts of observation: Beware of flying trash can lids. When that tornado siren blasts, get to shelter fast. As the tornado hit, the interior house scene has some cool practical effects. When you get to a shelter, stay at the shelter.

Harmonicas are your friends. Favorite lines: “All you can do is hope the best and prepare for the worst.” “ You can’t play Nintendo on an empty stomach.”

6. Twister (1996)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

IMDb 6.4 – Action, Adventure, Thriller Director: Jan de Bont Writer: Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin Cast: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes Possibly the pinnacle of all tornado movies, Twister is a force to be reckoned with. This has been the weather disaster feature upon which all others have been judged for over two decades.

There are numerous iconic scenes, including the cow, the house, the water pipes, the farm, the drive-in movie theater, the tanker truck, the cornfield, Dorothy, Aunt Meg…the list goes on and on. Although the graphics have aged, the story has not. Amazing, meaningful, touching, endearing, hopeful, exciting, devastating, and thrilling all correctly describe this film.

One thing Geeks did learn from this movie was always to have full coverage on a brand-new truck. Favorite lines: “We’ve got cows.” “Cow. Another cow.” “Actually, I think that’s the same one.” “That’s no moon, that’s a space station!”

7. The Perfect Storm (2000)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

IMDb 6.4 – Action, Adventure, Drama Director: Wolfgang Petersen Writer: William D. Wittliff Cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio One boat. Three storms were converging into one. One massive wave, preceded by many other waves.

The Perfect Storm is very loosely based on the book by Sebastian Junger. No one knows what happened to the real boat since it sank without any survivors. The bills are not paid. The swordfish is not biting. The crews’ significant others do not want them to go out again. So, what do they do? Of course, these “manly” men go out to provide for their families and not be defeated by the ocean.

Favorite lines: “Billy, get outta there! You’re steaming into a bomb, turn around, for Christ’s sake!” “Christina, can you hear me? I don’t know if you can, but I’m talking to ya. I love you now and forever. No goodbye. There’s only love, Christina, only love.” “It’s not that Skip. I’m out here because I need the money.”

8. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

IMDb 6.4 – Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Director: Roland Emmerich Writer: Roland Emmerich and Jeffrey Nachmanoff Cast: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum Tornados, superstorms, hail storms, massive storm surge flooding, and flash-freezing events. This is the royal flush of weather disasters in a card game that no one can win.

For those in the snowcone business, they definitely will take a hit. Hailed for its stunning visuals and based upon the book, The Coming Global Superstorms, this massive undertaking of a movie resonated with audiences. This time another Quaid, Dennis, is the main character searching for his son despite impossible odds. The weather patterns quickly and dramatically change, altering the climate of the entire northern hemisphere.

Keeping warm becomes the most important aspect of survival. Having a character named “Elsa” in the movie probably explains it all, but that scene must have hit the editing floor. Favorite lines: “I will come for you, do you understand me? I will come for you.” “His son is in Manhattan. I just thought you should know that before you start questioning his motives.”

9. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Image Credit: Warner Home Video.

IMDb 8.0 – Adventure, Family, Fantasy Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, King Vidor Writer: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger Containing arguably the most famous tornado of all time, The Wizard of Oz is the oldest film on this list. You might have heard of it before. It is based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Of course, this movie has it all.

A “flying” house. Witches and a wizard. Colorful scenes. Beautiful singing. Villians. Flying monkeys. A quest. Even a hot air balloon. And yes, the one-way tornado. Favorite Lines: “Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t you think?” “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.” “There’s no place like home.”

10. Where Was God? (2014)

Image Credit: Wiki Commons, Justin Hobson.

IMDb 8.0 – Documentary, Drama Director: Travis Palmer Cast: Micah Brown, Rhett Burnett, Kari Carmona This documentary film is about the Moore, Oklahoma, families that were affected by an F5 tornado in 2013. A story about a community. Devastation. Hope. Anger. Twenty-four lives were lost; hundreds of others were injured. Moore had four tornados EF4 or greater hit between 1999 and 2013. Since the storm was predicted to hit that area, a group of volunteers on the way to help unfortunately also got caught up in the tornado. The individual family stories are both heartbreaking and inspirational.

Bonus: Sharknado (2013)

Image Credit: The Asylum.

IMDb 3.3 – Action, Adventure, Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller. Director: Anthony C. Ferrante Writer: Thunder Levin Cast: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, John Heard, Cassandra Scerbo I guess that everyone has either already seen or at least heard of Sharknado. At the time, the little-known company, The Asylum, struck shark teeth gold with their “flying out of tornados” sharks attacking grounded humans.

This freak phenomenon of tornados being able to lift sharks out of the water and onto land where they do what sharks do best, prey, and eat is the brainchild of Thunder Levin. Let’s say this doesn’t  You can also try watching this with others to help keep of how many people die and in how many different ways. Some serious Sharknado parties have even made up bingo cards to fill out, which include the above.


Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.