Post by Ryan Maue
We all pray for the survivors and victims of the tornado tragedy in Joplin.
The mainstream print media has done an excellent job reporting on the disaster. When asking questions about relationships between climate change and tornadoes, it is very encouraging to see who is on the journalists’ Rolodex in this instance: forecasters and scientists who are actually responsible for severe weather warnings and are true tornado experts — rather than the usual attention-seeking political climate scientists and their sycophant bloggers. I’ll highlight some of the quotes by prominent experts in three articles from ABC, CBS, and Reuters. Suggestions for comments: find alternative viewpoints, clip a sentence or two, and provide the “expert” along with the URL link. The hand waving may require a wind warning…
Brave souls should get a vomit bag ready when listening to simpleton Al Roker pontificate on the cause of these tornadoes: climate change which is bringing typically rural tornadoes into urban areas…yep.
WUWT May 9, 2011: NOAA CSI: no attribution of climate change to tornado outbreak
Lead forecaster Greg Carbin of the National Weather Service’s National Severe Storm Laboratory was asked why the 2011tornado season has been so extraordinarily devastating. — Question (1): Have there been more tornadoes in 2011 than previous years? From ABC News online: Joplin, Missouri Tornado: What’s Causing the Rise in Deadly Storms?
Carbin’s answer: “There is no indication of an upward trend in either intensity or numbers. We’ve had a lot more reports of tornadoes, but most of those tornadoes are actually the weak tornadoes, the F-0. When you take out the F-0 tornadoes from the long-term record, there is very little increase in the total number of tornadoes, and we don’t see any increase in the number of violent tornadoes. It’s just that these things are coming, and they’re very rare and extreme, and they happen to be hitting populated areas. So right now, no indication of an upward trend in the strong to violent tornadoes that we’re seeing.”
Next question (2): Are strong tornadoes a result of global warming?
Carbin’s answer: “With respect to a connection to climate change … it’s an unanswered question, essentially. We know that there are ingredients that thunderstorms need that could increase in a warmer world, but we also know there are ingredients that may decrease, so the connections if any are very tenuous and the scientific discoveries on this have yet to be made.”
CBS News online: Deadliest tornado season in 50 years – but why?
Quoting the article:
At the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma last week, lead forecaster Corey Mead was already tracking the early stages of a storm system that would devastate Joplin.
We don’t fully understand how tornadoes form,” Mead says. But, as CBS News senior business correspondent Anthony Mason reports, this 17-year veteran of the National Weather Service says forecasting has improved significantly.
“We can actually anticipate the potential for those types of storms several days out,” Mead says. “But the exact locations and timing of more significant tornado threats – sometimes we don’t know up until just a few hours leading up to the events.”
…City College of New York’s professor Stan Gedzelman … He says superstorms are formed by an instability in the air that usually occurs in the Spring. “Yesterday’s instability – and the instability of the storms that hit Tuscaloosa is just about as large as I have ever seen,” he says.
Gedzelman sees nothing strange in the weather pattern this year. But year-to-date, tornadoes have killed more than 500 people. That’s seven times the average, making this the deadliest tornado season in more than half a century.
“The warning system was absolutely as good as it could be,” Gedzelman says. In fact, Joplin residents were given a 24-minute warning. Studies have shown that warning of just 6 to 15 minutes reduce the expected fatalities by more than 40 percent.
“It’s really remarkable the accuracy of the forecasts,” Gedzelman says. “It’s just that the level of destruction is beyond belief.”
It’s rare for tornadoes of this force to form at all. It’s rarer still for them to find population centers like Tuscaloosa and now Joplin.
Next up in the mainstream media: Reuters — La Nina weather pattern may be factor in more tornadoes
“La Nina typically has a more active southern jet stream. This spring that has played a role in the severe weather,” said Mark Paquette, meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.
Another factor may be warmer temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, which helped contribute to a warm and muggy air mass in the south, Paquette said.
But meteorologists said it was impossible to determine if climate change is responsible for the surge in natural disasters.
It could be climate change might cause more tornadoes, or less tornadoes, or there might be no change,” Wurman said.
The tornadoes that hit the south in April were exceptional in their number, according to weather experts. What was unusual about Sunday’s Missouri tornado was that it made a direct hit on a small city.
“It’s bad luck,” said Paquette. “Sometimes you have tornadoes that hit in the cornfields of Kansas or Nebraska or Iowa and the only person affected is that farmer and it doesn’t even hit his house. But here we have a tornado that hit a hospital.”
The expanding population of the United States, with accompanying suburban sprawl, has created more areas for tornadoes to cause serious damage.