Severe Weather Drought: Tornadoes drop to a new all time record low, major hurricane absence is setting a new record every day

In a blow to those that want to link increased severe weather with global warming/climate change, a new record low has been set according to NOAA tornado data. At the same time, it has been 2750 days (7 years, 6 months, 11 days) since the last major Hurricane (Cat 3 or greater) hit the USA on October 24th 2005 when hurricane Wilma made landfall. Each new day is a new record in this major hurricane drought.

Essay by Harold Brooks, NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory

Tornadoes_F1_1954-2013

Graph: Harold Brooks: NOAA

The 12-month period from May 2012 to April 2013 was remarkable for the absence of tornado activity and tornado impacts in the United States.

We can start by looking at the number of EF1 and stronger tornadoes during that period. A final count is available through January 2013 and we have a pretty good estimate of how many occurred in February through April, although final numbers won’t be available until July. Although the 12 month total may change a little bit with the final data, it’s unlikely to change enough to affect the results here.

From May 2012-April 2013, the estimate is that there were 197 tornadoes rated EF1 or stronger. Where does that stack up historically? Well, we have pretty good data back to 1954. During that time, the previous low for (E)F1 and stronger tornadoes in a 12 consecutive calendar month period was 247, from June 1991-May 1992. The next lowest (ignoring the overlapping periods, such as April 2012-March 2013) was 270 from November 1986-October 1987. The lowest non-overlapping 12 month counts on record from 1954-present, with the starting month, are:

197 May 2012 (preliminary)

247 June 1991

270 November 1986

289 December 2001

298 June 2000

This apparent record was set less than two years after the record for most EF1+ tornadoes in a 12-month period was set, with 1050 from June 2010-May 2011. The time series showing the evolution of the number of (E)F1+ tornadoes since 1954 is below. The number of (E)F1+ tornadoes in the 12 months beginning with the time on the x-axis is plotted for every month starting in January 1954 and ending in May 2012, the most recent point.

ef1plus12

The death toll from May 2012-April 2013 was 7. National Weather Service official statistics go back to January 1950, but we can extend that by using the work of Tom Grazulis from the Tornado Project, who has collected tornado fatality information back into the 17th century. The data are reasonably good back to 1875, but it’s still possible that there are some missed fatalities, particularly as we go back farther in time. So, where does 7 fatalities in 12 consecutive calendar months stack up? Again, here are the lowest totals, going back to 1875, for 12 consecutive months, with the starting month. (For overlapping periods, such as April 2012-March 2013 and May 2012-April 2013, only the lowest period is listed.)

5 September 1899

7 May 2012

8 August 1991

12 November 1909

12 May 1940

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Harold Brooks is a research meteorologist with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma.

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Update: Here is an updated chart showing the hurricane drought stretch. Originally done by Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., I’ve updated it since he is taking a blog break.

hurricane_drought_May2013

Reference: NOAA/NCDC US Landfalling hurricanes: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/E23.html

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Klench Mychiques

Highest peak shortly followed by deepest trough. It all evens out.

Tornadoes this year, up to end of April, are running less than half of the average, so it was not only the low number last year, that is pulling the total down.
http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/us-tornado-updateapril-2013/

wlf15y

Klench Mychiques says:
May 4, 2013 at 8:54 am
Highest peak shortly followed by deepest trough. It all evens out.
From NOAA:
“With increased national Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the true variability and trend in tornado frequency in the U.S., the total number of strong to violent tornadoes (EF3 to EF5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These are the tornadoes that would have likely been reported even during the decades before Doppler radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar chart below indicates there has been little trend in the frequency of the strongest tornadoes over the past 55 years.”
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/tornadoes.html
In other words, our ability to detect EF1’s and 2’s have increased/improved, not the actual number them, hence the “record” high.

noaaprogrammer

The recent paucity of hurricanes may explain why they are now naming every little thunder storm that pops up in the Atlantic.

wlf15y
Chris B

A catastrophic decrease in tornadoes, as predicted by the CAGW Hypothesis?

jones

Oh dear….
What should we do?
Is all the global warming being stored up like a capacitor to be discharged in one almighty category 50 million billion trillion storm? Climate extremes an all that….
Or a category (similar hyperbole) tornado that will get the world spinning like a top?
I hope I haven’t given the faithful any new ideas…..

jlurtz

As the Sun goes QUIET, the warm Earth is now entering a cooling phase. One cooling phase is in the modern record and that is the 1970s. Note that the area under the Solar Cycle 20 curve was greatly reduced [compared to Cycle 19 and Cycle 21] and cooling ensued.
As the Solar output drops, the main heating area, the Equator, gets cooler. The Jet Stream move toward the Equator and Arctic/Antarctic temperatures move toward the Equator.
Less energy in, “less boiling in the pan”, less energy for Hurricanes. Tornadoes are a different problem since they result from the clashes of warm/wet with cool/dry. Expect them to move toward the Equator.
This is so simple. The correlations are all there. Look at the area under the Solar Cycle curves to get a good idea of what is going to happen in the climate/weather. Note that entering a long term cooling phase has never happened since 1650.

Jeff L

The record high & record low aren’t as interesting as the trend. Over the time range presented is largely flat to maybe slightly down (my visual estimates).
Conclusion : “Global warming” has no impact on US tornado counts.
The logic disconnect CAGWers have on this issue is astounding & shows their belief must be largely political but not scientific. The majority of tornadic activity is dominated by mid-lattitude cold front boundaries. The AGW hypothesis predicts a larger relative warming at northern latitudes, thus, by definition, predicts that , on average, frontal boundaries will have less temperature contrast – ie weaker – and thus , if anything, to be internally consistent, you should expect a decrease in tornadic activity.
Alternatively stated, AGW should decrease tornado counts & thus would be a net benefit. But of course, that wouldn’t be alarming & that is simply unacceptable to those pushing the hypothesis.

barry

[snip – strawman argument for the purpose of misdirection – the IPCC is not discussed here in this article – mod]

Latitude

wow…..extreme high…to extreme low…in one click
But I’m sure somehow somewhere some computer game predicted it….
..these bozo’s are running so many computer models..one has to be right….
They can’t lose………

Otter

Hmmm. We had two La Ninas back to back, which I believe was part if not the Main reason, for last year’s drought in the US?
Makes me wonder: do tornado outbreaks follow the shifts in weather patters, which are caused by such events?

pat

By coincidence I was just reading a series of communications between Revkin and Mann wherein Revkin questions the use of tornadoes as a reference to CAGW. Mann, as usual is angry and implies Revkin is a bumpkin that is unfamiliar with the null hypothesis.
https://twitter.com/Revkin/status/330364146614939649
Ironically, that was exactly what Revkin was employing.
So again we see that every observation whether it discredits or confirms the alarmism of The Climateers is proof of CA-climate change.

Jimbo

Where’s all this extreme weather they go on about? Do they mean extreme lows? Just you wait, they’ll soon blame…………………………………………………….global warming. 😉

Jimbo

We have reached a consensus.

“Climate change will increase frequency of hurricanes”

“Scientists have found support for the controversial idea that global warming is causing more frequent and destructive hurricanes..”

“Top researchers now agree that the world is likely to face stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming,…”

noaaprogrammer

Beware, the eye of Jupiter may be ‘permanently’ realized here on Earth!

aeroguy48

The Weather Channel parked their asses here in Arlington, Texas 2 days ago with their ‘tornado chasing’ van in the background but segqued into the cloudy cool temps around the US. TWC all dressed up and nowhere to go.

Richard deSousa

Hurricanes depend on heat to generate it’s existence. If indeed the earth is getting colder, then episodes of intense hurricanes may well take a hiatus.

Bill H

Let me see…
Planet is in a cooling phase. Which means that the polar jets are stronger causing wind shear over the oceans and keeping major storms from developing. If they do develop, the dipping of the stream tears them apart before they can make land fall.
Add to this the periodic oscillations which are now neutral or cold and the energy to support these storms vanishes. Solar output to the surface is waning and thus reduced heat is being absorbed by the oceans.
It seems that two or more of the normal variations are now coming together in unison. This coupled state is causing cooling and diminished summer storm activity while winter storms are increasing in their activity yet not outside of what has happened before..
The earth is in control not man.. we just dont know it yet..

Jeff Alberts

jones says:
May 4, 2013 at 9:20 am
Oh dear….
What should we do?
Is all the global warming being stored up like a capacitor to be discharged in one almighty category 50 million billion trillion storm? Climate extremes an all that….
Or a category (similar hyperbole) tornado that will get the world spinning like a top?
I hope I haven’t given the faithful any new ideas…..

Apparently you haven’t heard of the dreaded Hypercane!!!

Bruce Cobb

What a shame. Here all this time the climastrologists have been concentrating on “communicating climate change/extreme weather” to people (without much success), but forgot to “communicate climate change/extreme weather” to Mother Nature. Oh well. Better luck next time.

Richard111

Worries me this. I read long ago that any climate change is seen at the poles. For a warming world poles get warmer so equator pole temperature difference drops and so does air movement, less storms. If the poles cool, greater temperature difference and air movement increases, more storms.
I’ve been expecting more bad weather as Earth becomes cooler and the AGW crowd to crow loudly. Something is wrong. Must be me as usual.

Bill H

Richard111 says:
May 4, 2013 at 10:37 am
Worries me this. I read long ago that any climate change is seen at the poles. For a warming world poles get warmer so equator pole temperature difference drops and so does air movement, less storms. If the poles cool, greater temperature difference and air movement increases, more storms.
I’ve been expecting more bad weather as Earth becomes cooler and the AGW crowd to crow loudly. Something is wrong. Must be me as usual.
=================================
They forgot about the paradoxical effect of cooling. the greater differential means a larger polar jet and lower intrusion. This causes wind shear and tears these storms apart. when the equatorial jets are reduced so is water content and thus storm severity.
Like Gore, they got their hurricanes backwards..

Jarrett Jones

NOAA: “The bar chart below indicates there has been little trend in the frequency of the strongest tornadoes over the past 55 years.”
What they are careful not to mention or illustrate is that the “little trend” is down.

Rich Lambert

The lack of spring storms in Oklahoma is a problem. There has been rain, but very little runoff due to the lack of storms. Ranchers are still having to haul water for the cattle. By the way we had frost the night before last and the coolest spring on record. Thanks goodness for the wood stove and it is May!

pochas

I am delighted to see a bona fide NOAA scientist present real, unadjusted data for what it is. I really believe NOAA is on the mend.

highflight56433

The days between a major hurricane chart is very interesting with regard to the long term 100 + year picture it draws.

Jeff Alberts

Rich Lambert says:
May 4, 2013 at 10:56 am
The lack of spring storms in Oklahoma is a problem. There has been rain, but very little runoff due to the lack of storms. Ranchers are still having to haul water for the cattle. By the way we had frost the night before last and the coolest spring on record. Thanks goodness for the wood stove and it is May!

It’s actually starting to warm up here in Western Washington State. Beautiful sunny day (my birthday yay!) and it’s supposed to be in the mid-70s. Perfect!

Bill H

What will be interesting to watch is when these coupled variations decouple. decoupling is usually an intense and chaotic thing. If a Dalton event is what is in our future then the decoupling will be massive cooling and rapidly. If not then warming will begin and we will have a massive surge in storms and sever weather. Again the SUN is the controlling fact on this one.

Luther Wu

Tornado drought? That’s fine by me, here in OKC.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

2011-12, mild continental US winter:
Global warming!
Early 2012-13, colder and more severe continental US winter:
Global warming! There will be less snow exactly like they said before, but that’s total, snow events will be rarer but perhaps more extreme.
Last night, ABC World News, reporting on the record unprecedented historic never-happened-before May snowstorms and extreme cold of the nigh-unending winter and delayed spring:
*crickets*
It’s the weather, Omega Block system, it happens.
Tornado and hurricane drought? What’s that? They never heard of that, it’s a (brief) return to normalcy before all of that accumulated hidden warming takes effect, etc.
It also could just be the weather.

Rud Istvan

A year of tornadoes is weather, not climate. Half a decade of hurricanes is weatherish. The half century records of tornadoes, hurricanes, and ACE (Ryan Maui) are climate, and put the lie to CAGW as does SREX 2012.
Now the interesting things to be learned about weather (not climate) is why the recent tornado and hurricane lows? Worth redirecting a lot of wasted climate research dollars into weather questions like that. Knowing would be useful in saying watch out, this year could be bad because…

Now the interesting things to be learned about weather (not climate) is why the recent tornado and hurricane lows?
More cosmic rays, due to reducing solar activity, seeding more clouds, reflecting more sunlight back into space, leading to lower insolation of the ocean, leading to less energy to produce severe hurricanes.
Just guessing… 🙂

Warmists would say that we’ve just been lucky wrt hurricanes, because they’ve stayed offshore recently. They may be right: Bastardi and some other authority predict lots of hurricanes this year. And someone else trustworthy here predicts a lot of tornados later this month.

Jeff Alberts

kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
May 4, 2013 at 11:30 am
2011-12, mild continental US winter:
Global warming!
Early 2012-13, colder and more severe continental US winter:
Global warming! There will be less snow exactly like they said before, but that’s total, snow events will be rarer but perhaps more extreme.

The other day I was listening to the CBS news on the local radio at the top of the hour. They mentioned the “historic” snowstorms in Minnesota and Wisconsin, that the residents hadn’t seen this in almost “half a decade”.

Wow. A WHOLE half a decade? If they had said “5 years” it wouldn’t have sounded so dramatic. That’s unbiased reporting for you.

The same Harold Brooks that was giving me a hard time for including his papers on my list?
http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html#Tornadoes
He never gave me an answer if I was able to use his papers to support skeptic arguments that tornadoes are not getting worse due to global warming.

Laurence Clark Crossen

Joseph Bastardi recently stated the Atlantic is in a warm period similar to the1950s. Then are tornadoes and hurricanes less frequent with a warmer Atlantic?

wlf15y

pochas says:
May 4, 2013 at 11:00 am
I am delighted to see a bona fide NOAA scientist present real, unadjusted data for what it is. I really believe NOAA is on the mend.
While it is somewhat encouraging, the fact that there is no mention of the fact that the 2011 “record” high is likely only due to the fact that we can now detect them better now, as populations and technology have increased. See my posts near the top. 2011 should have big asterisk next to it.

Kajajuk

But an increase in EF and a greater distribution is dismissed as well?
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/wcm/annualtornadomaps/

Warm AMO cold PDO sets up New England for hurricanes. “The Big One” could well happen this year. Bastardi states the probability is higher. If it occurs, McKibben will be in full cry. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

Laurence Clark Crossen

If the Atlantic is warm and Pacific cold then very likely the earth as a whole is relatively cold. Global cooling causes more hurricanes. The 1950s had warm AMO and cold PDO and was a cold period.

Laurence Clark Crossen

As so very often, AGW is not only not true, the opposite is true.

Kajajuk

It also appears that only a couple of states experience a peak between January to April. The vast major have peaks that start from April, so i offer the celebrations be a small party and not a block party, yet. Much of tornadoes 2013 are yet to sing…
http://0.tqn.com/d/weather/1/0/i/-/-/-/tornadostatepeaks.jpg

Tsk Tsk

Jeff Alberts says:
May 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm
kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
May 4, 2013 at 11:30 am
2011-12, mild continental US winter:
Global warming!
Early 2012-13, colder and more severe continental US winter:
Global warming! There will be less snow exactly like they said before, but that’s total, snow events will be rarer but perhaps more extreme.
The other day I was listening to the CBS news on the local radio at the top of the hour. They mentioned the “historic” snowstorms in Minnesota and Wisconsin, that the residents hadn’t seen this in almost “half a decade”.

Wow. A WHOLE half a decade? If they had said “5 years” it wouldn’t have sounded so dramatic. That’s unbiased reporting for you.
————————————————————————-
Actually we set an all time record for snowfall on Friday (0.5″). The previous record was 0.2″. Ice out on Lake Minnetonka, a popular, big lake just to the west of the cities, was May 2. That is the latest ice out in 50 years (1965) and missed the record by a few days. Regions of the state have set all time April snow records.
I can’t wait for is all of the improved crop yields we’re going to get by avoiding a prolonged growing season. Shorter is better, of course, or so the greenies keep telling me.
I also can’t wait for our local NPR climastrologist, Paul Huttner, to learn just what an average means in a system with large standard deviations as he reports from the “weather lab” aka his den.

Greg Goodman

Laurence Clark Crossen says:”Joseph Bastardi recently stated the Atlantic is in a warm period similar to the1950s. Then are tornadoes and hurricanes less frequent with a warmer Atlantic?”
Perhaps you should link to what Joseph Bastardi actually said.
Tornadoes and hurricanes are two totally differenct phenomena. Hurricanes are primarily linked to Altantic SST , tornadoes depend on wind shear and my be a more complex mix of atlantic and pacfic weather patterns.
Their trends over time look very different.
First here is a look at total annual cyclone energy vs N. Atlantic sea temperatures.
wlf15y says “the 2011 “record” high is likely only due to the fact that we can now detect them better now”
That has been true since about 1988, it has nothing especially to with 2011.
See the following plot and its description to see that it is sufficient to exclude EF1 to get a consistent tornado count.
http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=218
Unfortunately the plot at the head of this article included EF1 and thus does not correctly show how tornado count has varied over time.

Greg Goodman

Oops, here’s the link for ACE vs SST missing in above comment:
http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=215

jones

Jeff Alberts says:
May 4, 2013 at 10:32 am
‘Hypercane’???
……………………………………………………………
Hahahahahahahahahaahha….
No, I really hadn’t…..
Cheers for that…..
So it really is worse than I thought?…

Greg Goodman

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/tornadoes.html
NOAA: “The bar chart below indicates there has been little trend in the frequency of the strongest tornadoes over the past 55 years.
http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/images/tornado/clim/EF3-EF5.png
” has been little trend “? I beg to differ. All depends on what you mean by “little”. However, there is a clear difference as I noted above.
”http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=218
Their bar graph corresponds to the green line on my plot.
My graph shows the mean over the whole record. Clearly most of the pre1975 period was above average and most of the later period was below average. Conclusion global warming caused less tornadoes.
That’s one half of the ‘more frequent and more violent storms’ myth busted.
If there is a relation to be drawn from that data it would suggest is not a case of warm or cool temperature but warming or cooling trends.
periods of cooling show more tornadoes , periods with a warming trend show less.

Greg Goodman

It is interesting to note that “Harold Brooks is a research meteorologist with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma” choses to included the EF1 data that is known to be inconsistent in his plot. Despite the caveats clearly being highlighted on NOAA site:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/tornadoes.html
Yet another case of “hide the decline”.

Ben D.

Let’s see if I’ve got this right,..since the term global warming has come to be used as synonymous with ‘climate change’, and since climate change implies any change whatsoever, whenever, wherever, however, of the climatic environment, , then global warming is with us forever.

barry

Regarding projections of storm frequency under a warming climate, the NOAA (source for the hurricane data used in the post) has this to say:

“Although recent climate model simulations project a decrease or no change in global tropical cyclone numbers in a warmer climate, there is low confidence in this projection. In addition, it is unknown how tropical cyclone tracks or areas of impact will change in the future.”

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/G3.html