Tornadoes at Christmastime – Note to McKibben and Romm – not that uncommon

Before alarmists like Bill McKibben and Joe Romm start caterwauling about the tornadoes in the south yesterday as being a signature of “global warming”, I caution them not to make fools of themselves but instead note this from the National Weather Service:

The holiday may conjure visions of snow and ice, but twisters this time of year are not unheard of. Ten storm systems in the last 50 years have spawned at least one Christmastime tornado with winds of 113 mph or more in the South, said Chris Vaccaro, a National Weather Service spokesman in Washington, via email.

Source: The Weather Channel

Here’s a some notable Christmastime December-January outbreaks that happened well before CO2 was falsely blamed as being the cause of every severe weather event that makes the news:

1947 New Year’s Eve tornado outbreak     December 31, 1947     Southern U.S.     –     20 fatalities, 256 injuries     (7 significant, 1 violent, 3 killer)

1949 Warren, Arkansas tornado outbreak     January 3, 1949     South Central U.S.     –     60 fatalities, 504 injuries     (12 significant, 1 violent, 5 killer)

1957 Murphysburo, Illinois tornado outbreak     December 18, 1957     Missouri – Illinois     23     17 fatalities     (18 significant, 3 violent, 5 killer)

1971 Springfield, Missouri tornado outbreak     December 14–15, 1971     Central United States     40     2 fatalities     (10 significant, 2 killer)

Christmas 1982 tornado outbreak     December 23–25, 1982     Central – Southeastern United States     43     3 fatalities     (18 significant)

1987 West Memphis, Arkansas tornado     December 14, 1987     Arkansas – Tennessee     –     6 dead, 100 injured     Rated F3

December 2000 Tuscaloosa tornado     December 16, 2000     Southern United States  12 fatalities     Deadly Tuscaloosa tornado caught live via Tower Cam (1 violent, 10 significant, 2 killer)e     –     6 dead, 100 injured     Rated F3

And from The Tornado Project, a reminder that Tornado deaths were far worse before our modern times.

The Top Ten US Killer Tornadoes


The United States gets about 1000 recorded tornadoes every year.

Today, only a few are killers, but that has not always been so. About 200 US

tornadoes have killed 18 or more people. Of those, about 150 occurred in the 70 year period between 1879 and 1949. There have been about 45 tornadoes since 1950 that have killed 18 or more people. In the 1950s, there were 18 tornadoes that killed 18 or more people. In the 1960s, there were 12 tornadoes that killed 18 or more people. In the 1970s,there were 11 tornadoes that killed 18 or more people. And in the 1980s, there were only 2 tornadoes that killed more than 18 people. In spite of an ever-burgeoning population, death figures continue to go down as improved forecasting, detection, communications, and public awareness increase. To read more about each of the “Top Ten US Killer Tornadoes,” click on the event numbers or locations in the table below.

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Mike Bromley the Canucklehead
December 26, 2012 8:24 am

To heck with McKibben et al. Let’s get John Kerry into grinch mode!

Power Grah
December 26, 2012 8:49 am

I remember there being a tornado in Tulsa on Christmas Eve in the 1970’s. I may still have the newspaper clipping of the cartoon where Santa and his sleigh and reindeer were stuck in a tree. Santa was saying to the reindeer, “Let’s start early, you said! Let’s start in Tulsa, you said!”

Doug Huffman
December 26, 2012 8:54 am

John Kerry, the Grinch with VietNam eXtreme Combat experience that “earned (scare-quotes) a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and numerous Purple Hearts in four months of intense fighting.”
He’s a tough guy, makin’ a list and checking it twice to find out whose been naughty and nice. He must always be referred to as “John Kerry, who served in VietNam.”

December 26, 2012 9:02 am

The recent tornados and blizzards are the result of the steep temperature gradient which forms as the jet stream swings sharply along a more meridional path bringing cold air masses further south and warm air further north. This pattern ,a common feature of global cooling episodes, is discussed in my post Hurricane Sandy-Extreme Events and Global Cooling at
which refers to previous posts at the same site check – Thirty year Climate Forecast 6/18/2010 and
Thirty Year Climate Forecast 2 Year Update 7/19 /2012 which forecasts are looking pretty fair so far.

December 26, 2012 9:22 am

The alarmists can’t explain that tornadoes and violent storms take place in winter and when it is 100 degrees F there is no wind ?
It is temperature DIFFERENCE not absolute temperature which causes winds.

Gary Pearse
December 26, 2012 9:23 am

In the 1950s, there were 18 tornadoes that killed 18 or more people. In the 1960s, there were 12 tornadoes that killed 18 or more people. In the 1970s,there were 11 tornadoes that killed 18 or more people. And in the 1980s, there were only 2 tornadoes that killed more than 18 people.
Dr Norman Page says:
December 26, 2012 at 9:02 am
Dr Page has got it right.
Once again, we are coming up to 60-70 yrs since they were frequent and bad – these are cold period events. We sceptics should be forecasting a rise in tornado activity as things cool. I have (as many here may be tired of hearing about) using what happened 60-70 years ago as a model for forecasting what is happening now or in the future – be they strong droughts in Texas, wildfires in the southwest, cold northwest US, snowfall and rainfall extremes, arctic ice cover fluctuations, etc. This is a critical time for sceptics. Don’t let alarmists grab the initiative and predict these things on the basis of CO2! Let’s have Heartland or some other sceptical organization or individuals start predicting these things right now instead of pooh-poohing CAGWers who will make hay on it.

December 26, 2012 9:48 am

Dr Norman Page
Yes l quite agree that this increase in the waving of the jet will lead to cooling and is not a sign of warming as the alarmists have been trying to claim. Because this increase in north/south movement will increase the rate at which the atmosphere will soak up and give off heat. Plus there is likely to be a increase in cloud cover.

December 26, 2012 10:04 am

According to SPC, 1982 holds the record for Dec tornadoes with 86 F1+.
Average is 25.

December 26, 2012 12:07 pm

If this was some sort of climate-driven anomaly, it would have been difficult or impossible to forecast. Instead, meteorology nailed it. See:

December 26, 2012 12:43 pm

As others are noting, it the contrast in temperatures that encourages the storms that breed tornadoes, and what have you got at the moment?

David L
December 26, 2012 12:57 pm

Much much worse than I previously thought! /sarc

john robertson
December 26, 2012 1:05 pm

From my inspection of the stuffing of the bird, I predict cold ahead until it warms in a burst of 1/2 global warming in the spring.
The weather Demons, led by the North Wind are com’in to getcha.
Be very, very……….. very frightened and send money so my interventions to these gods will save you.
Funny how it never changes.

Brian H
December 26, 2012 6:01 pm

Twister–a large amount of spin in a small area, wandering erratically. McKibbon and Romm are not just observers, they’re participants!

Jeff Alberts
December 26, 2012 7:03 pm

How about tornadoes 400 years ago? 500? 1000? 10000? We don’t know. Caterwauling about anything in the last 150 years being “unprecedented”, a mere eyeblink in time, when you have NO idea what went on before is simply stupid.

December 26, 2012 8:53 pm

“I caution them not to make fools of themselves…”
That horse left the barn a LONG time ago.

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