Interactive Weather

So I have a personal development sandbox of Unity 5 on my system where I toy around with a lot of different ideas. I have a couple of questions to anyone who may be able to answer. I am going to attempt to prototype interactive weather (Tornado, fire storm, etc). Now, I know that most game weather is handled by layers and effects. Here is my issue: Should I attempt to handle everything as a gameobject using animations and a simple damage script, or should I attempt to control everything via script mainly.

For example. If players are out in the middle of nowhere, with very few / no safe places for cover, I would like the clouds to randomly roll into an area, darken the sky, give rain effects as well as thunder and lightning, possible hail, then BAM! In drops a tornado!

I know a tornado could be handled as strictly particle effects with a collision trigger like so:

But if you want a bit more effect, would it be wiser to use an actual mesh and use effects on it such as:

The other thing I would like to do is handle things like hail, or a random magic firestorm such as:

Any suggestions on how to proceed with this? Half the fun is making it work… but some ideas of a great starting point would be appreciated.

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