Skip to content

Wild Weather with Richard Hammond - Wind: The invisible force

Updated Wednesday 19th November 2014

Richard Hammond investigates how wind starts and walks in the centre of a man-made tornado in this episode.

Richard Hammond in a wind tunnel Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC In this episode Richard investigates how wind actually starts: he visits one of the windiest places on the planet; walks into the centre of a man-made tornado; and creates a 10-metre high whirlwind... made of fire!

Along the way he is part of a world first when he joins up with an American meteorologist called Reed Timmer, and a bizarre vehicle known as The Dominator III. Their aim is to succeed in doing what no one has ever done before – fire a probe into a tornado to measure its speed where it is at its fastest... right next to the ground.

As Reed explains; "near the base of the tornado is one of the biggest mysteries of tornado science and it’s also the most important to understand because those are the wind speeds... that cause all the destruction." To put that right, Reed and his team, take The Dominator into the middle of a real live tornado & attempt to fire a probe into the very heart of it but what results will they get?

Richard also visits one of the few places on the planet capable of duplicating a real-life tornado. The Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment Research Institute (or WindEEE for short) in Ontario in Canada, hadn't even opened its doors when Richard asked them to take part in an experiment. The 23 million dollar facility is one of the world’s first hexagonal wind tunnels. As Richard says "I've got goose bumps, and that's not just because it's cold in here!"

Richard braves the winds and temperatures of -50 degrees F to take a trip outside on top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, On April 12th 1934 that station measured one of the highest wind speeds ever measured on land - 231 mph! And bear in mind that 20 mph constitutes 'a fairly strong wind' and 80 mph is enough to knock you off your feet.

Wild Weather with Richard Hammond is a weather series unlike any other. It will change forever what you see when you look out of your window.

You can watch this episode of Wild Weather With Richard Hammond on Monday 1st December at 9.00pm on BBC One. More information and links to watch online when available can be found on the BBC website.

View more episode guides in this series.

Order your FREE wild weather poster

Watch, try and then share your own wild weather experiment

Try our FREE watching the weather course

Has this whetted your appetite? Try a short course

We have a low cost 80-100 hour flexible online course introducing the fascinating subject of the weather. This allows you to learn about the weather just for interest and enables you to try out a new area of study before you commit yourself to further study, if you wish to continue with that route. This features:

  • The support of an expert learning adviser who can clarify study materials, answer questions and help you relate the course to your specific needs.
  • An online interactive quiz that you can attempt as many times as you wish to help you test your own learning.
  • A statement of participation from the OU which you can use to demonstrate your engagement with the course. (N.B. The course does not carry academic credit points.)

Find out more on Science: the weather


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?