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Well? Is it?
But that doesn't mean that this ... bizarre ... attempt at cinema doesn't raise some interesting questions. Questions that we will explore in this episode of SciShow. Hold on to your buckets!

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Hello and welcome to this extra special edition to...ah, I can't do it. It- you've seen the title; you know what's about to happen.

Is Sharknado possible?

No. And I assume you already knew that, but that doesn't mean that this bizarre attempt at cinema  doesn't raise some interesting questions.

(SciShow theme)

Okay, let's give these people the benefit of the doubt: what did Sharknado get right?

Let's start with the phenomenon that Sharknado is based upon: that tornadoes can pick up and drop living animals. This is actually fairly well documented. Tornadoes can pick up and drop pretty much anything. Entire ponds can be sucked up into a tornado and left empty in the aftermath. Any fish or snakes or frogs or...sharks that happened to be in that pond would get sucked up and yes, they would land elsewhere.

Documented incidents of rains of dead birds, live fish, live frogs, jellyfish, worms, even hunks of meat likely from large animals that have been torn apart have occurred. Almost always these incidents are accompanied by nearby tornadoes or waterspouts, though not as nearby as you might think. But other times, the source of the animal remains is unclear, which is weird. And of course as we learned from Helen Hunt's "Twister", a tornado will have no problem picking up a cow.

Now that might sound pretty impressive, but a full grown great white can weigh up to twenty-three hundred kilograms, as much as three cows. Of course, that doesn't mean that a tornado couldn't pick one up. The largest known thing ever moved by a tornado was a piece of farm equipment that was over thirteen thousand kilograms. So yes, it is indeed technically possible for a tornado to pick up a shark, especially if the shark intentionally like, leapt into the tornado. I'm not going to pretend to understand it's motivations.

But of course, it wouldn't go very far. Heavy objects don't tend to be transported more than a few dozen meters by a tornado. But here's an amazing statistic for you: in 1915 a tornado passed through a wildlife refuge. The same day, twenty-five miles away from where the tornado occurred a bunch of dead ducks fell from the sky. They were sucked high up into the tornado into the weather system and traveled twenty-five miles from where the path of the tornado ended.

And yes, hurricanes can spawn tornadoes and waterspouts, so that part is accurate too.

So here's what Sharknado got right: if a large hurricane spawned a large tornado and a large shark was lifted into it and then fell on you, you would indeed die, though much more likely from being crushed by a huge, dead shark than by being devoured.

Now onto why all of this is ridiculously ludicrous, and of course we all know it is, but it's kind of interesting to see how it is.

First, uh, if a tornado forms over water, it's a waterspout. It's not even a tornado, so semantically, Sharknado is impossible unless the sharks happen to be lying on the ground before they got sucked up. But Sharkspout? I- who would fund that movie?

Second! Santa Monica: not really known for it's hurricanes. In fact, the number of hurricanes that hit Santa Monica in recorded history I can count them on zero hands. Depending on how you count it, the number of hurricanes that hit California in the same time period: about five.

Now amazingly enough, we do have data on what sharks do when a tornado passes over them. In 1969, a tornado passed over a Florida attraction called Ocean World. The sharks, along with most of the other fish, unsurprisingly dove to the deepest parts of the tank available and did not, in fact, attempt to leap into the funnel cloud.

So yeah, of course, we all know that Sharknado is impossible, but for some reason, asking the question is fun anyway.

Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow! You can find us on Facebook or Twitter or down in the comments below and if you want to keep getting smarter with us here at SciShow, you can go to and subscribe.