"Ajax cleans like a white tornado!"

-Ajax Liquid commercials, c. 1960

"The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people."

-Gil Scott-Heron, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

"Over there! It's a white tornado! Look at it whirling around and spinning and everything. It's a white tornado!"
"White tornado my foot. That's a real tornado. This ain't New York City, baby."

-They Might Be Giants "Istanbul (remix)"

What the hell is a "white tornado"?

That was the question burning itself into my mind over the past few weeks. Having researched many on and offline meteorlogical glossaries and the OED, I have come to the conclusion that "white tornado" is simply not a technical classification of tornado, other than to note that it is a tornado that is white in hue, as opposed to black or grey.

This hasn't stopped dozens of amature artists and photographers, including storm chasers, from using the phrase, most likely as a vague allusion to the 60's era commercials for Ajax Liquid (with more ammonia! How can you tell? Sniff).

White tornadoes are occasionally found outside of the realms of weather science and cleaning agents.