10 Best Tornado & Storm Movies to Watch on Cold and Rainy Nights

tornado movies

Rather than go out and brave the actual elements, this is a much safer and saner way to spend your time.

aMany movies have captured or reimagined these atmospheric events in interesting, telling, and even hilarious ways. Some of these films are bad to the bone, and some are a bit bad, but they are all entertaining.

Tornados And Related Severe Storms Show The Real Power And destruction Mother Nature Can Dish Out 

Tornado, weather
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Face it; most people love to watch things get destroyed in movies. There is a certain amount of twisted satisfaction in watching a skyscraper fall or a city block get wiped out.

It is like playing with building blocks as a kid. Making the tower is fun and challenging, but knocking it down is so devilishly satisfying.

One movie is a documentary, so the real, serious, and heartbreaking reality of tornados is also included.

So stay inside, maybe near a fire, snuggled with a significant other or a furkid. Or maybe with a ton of blankets and a warm drink. 

Whichever way you choose to partake, here are ten great choices and one bonus movie for you to enjoy while “the storm rages on” outside. Elsa, thank you for the mini-quote from Frozen, another storm movie.

1. Atomic Twister (2002)

Atomic Twister
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)

Tornado Warning
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)

Category 6: Day of Destruction
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)

Into the Storm
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)

Night of the Twisters
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)

The Perfect Storm Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney
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)

Day After Tomorrow
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)

The Wizard of Oz
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  

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll duck, or you'll die could have been a tagline for Sharknado. For a lighter take on the whole end-of-the-world weather scenario, this is your best option. You can read a previous blog that Brian wrote about the Sharknado series right here.

This blog has been edited and expanded by Brian Piotrzkowski.


Author: Michael Dinich

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Side Hustles, Passive Income, Investing


Michael Dinich is a journalist, personal finance expert, and a true geek at heart. Michael founded Wealth of Geeks in 2017, and he's the executive producer of the Wealth of Geeks podcast. He's known for his relatable financial advice and passionate discussions about all things geek.