Media FAILS: Ignores Real-World Data When It Comes to Tornadoes and Climate Change

This article originally appeared in American Thinker on April 7, 2023.

After the recent devastating tornadoes in the Midwest and South, some media outlets scrambled to try to link the weather events to climate change, when in fact there is no hard data to support this. In fact, tornado data refute claims that tornadoes are increasing in number, range, or severity. However, Salon, Axios, and the Washington Post among others ran articles suggesting climate change is expanding the length of tornado season and area over which tornadoes commonly form, as well as adding ingredients to the atmosphere to make more and bigger tornadoes.

The Salon article, “How climate change made the Mississippi tornadoes more likely,” (actually a reprint from Grist) claimed, “That added ingredient of more heat and moisture is going to be the big thing that will influence what happens and we can expect potentially worse tornado outbreaks,” said William Gallus, a professor of meteorology at Iowa State University.

Axios piled on with “What we know about how climate change affects tornado outbreaks,” which claims, “We also have expectations that the number of severe thunderstorms (hail, wind, tornado) will probably increase in the U.S.”

The Washington Post article, “Here’s what we know about how climate change is influencing tornadoes,” asserts, “Average global temperatures have risen more than 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s, and the impact is clear: Warmer air provides more energy for storms to develop and intensify, and holds more moisture, which can also fuel storms. Warm, moist air is a key ingredient for developing severe tornadic storms.”

These claims of increased storms due to more heat and moisture are misleading at best and demonstrate a clear lack of understanding of how weather fronts collide to form tornadoes. As Climate at a Glance: Tornadoes points out: “Tornadoes typically form when very cold, dry air clashes with warm, humid air. Climate change warms the Arctic more than the tropics and subtropics, resulting in less of a clash between cold Arctic air masses and warm Gulf of Mexico air masses. As a result, fewer and less violent tornadoes are occurring today than in previous periods, despite media claims that tornadoes are getting more frequent, stronger, or both.”

Plus, all of these articles miss one very important and immutable fact: decades of hard data on tornado activity don’t support these claims. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. This figure shows the frequency of strong to violent tornadoes (tornadoes registering EF3 or stronger) has been declining since the early 1970s. Sources: Graph by Anthony Watts using official NOAA/Storm Prediction Center data. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Historical Records and Trends,, Graph data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, Storm Prediction Center website,

Despite modest warming of the climate over the past 50 years, data show no trend in increasing tornadoes linked to climate change. Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its most recent report, “There is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes.”

These articles all focused on the recent severe storms that caused many deaths and widespread destruction. Yet, looking at the actual data for the trend in strong to violent tornadoes suggest no cause for alarm. Violent tornadoes, those rated EF3 to EF5 on the enhanced Fujita tornado scale, have declined in recent decades, based on actual data supplied by the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

The hard data on tornado numbers and intensity refute any assertions that tornadoes are worsening due to climate change. The number of strong to violent tornadoes, F3 or higher, has dramatically declined for nearly half a century. Additional evidence shows attempts to tie tornadoes to climate change falls flat. For instance, 2018 was a record-low year for tornadoes in the United States. Even the Washington Post wrote that 2018 was the first year with no violent tornadoes in the United States.

Also flying in the face of climate change attribution during the so-called “hottest decade in recorded history” from 2010 to 2019, two record-low years for tornado strikes in the United States occurred, in 2014 and 2018.

Finally, it is important to note that severe tornado outbreaks are not a global (as in global warming) phenomenon, but mostly limited to the United States with its unique topography and weather patterns.

All of these omissions lead one to ask if the media are aware of hard data and previous articles on the topics of tornados and climate change, or did these outlets simply not wish to consider what those articles and data implied, because they presented inconvenient truths that are counter to their attempts to link climate change and tornado behavior?

Even the scientist quoted in the Post article would not commit to the narrative that climate change was changing tornado behavior.

Per the Post, “That suggests more tornadoes may be likely, too. But scientists aren’t ready to declare that yet.”

Also, according to the Post, “There is nothing concrete to say, ‘Yes, we’re going to see more tornadoes,’ Allen said,” as Dance reported.

The willful choice to ignore these facts is indicative of the shoddy state of what passes for journalism today. The Washington Post’s banner reads, “democracy dies in darkness.” Evidently, science dies in darkness, too.

5 29 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
April 11, 2023 2:04 pm

No surprise here. Just the typical, misleading fear porn from the Washington Post. These claims of global warming making tornados worse is just a cry for attention; they know that nature could stop warming any second it wants. The clock is ticking. After the upcoming big El Niño, a shift in trends will likely take place.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Walter
April 11, 2023 3:51 pm

The Washington Post: Pravda by the Potomac.

Reply to  Walter
April 11, 2023 6:31 pm

Blame Russia, or a Russian volcano at least.

April 11, 2023 2:10 pm

“Media fails: Ignores real world data”.

No change there, then.

Mark Luhman
April 11, 2023 2:10 pm

Climate change causes all bad thing don’t you know that. /sarc The sad part these people in their reckless rush to abandonment of fossil fuels will kill far more people than the primitive tribes who threw virgins into volcanos. Yet we are supposes to be the smart one. As Ron White puts it, “you can’t fix stupid.”

April 11, 2023 2:26 pm

“Could”, “might”, “perhaps”, “prediction” –

the new language of science, the language of new science, or just the usual language of climate “science”?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Mr.
April 11, 2023 5:07 pm

the language of climastrology

Reply to  Mr.
April 11, 2023 5:15 pm

The language of CAGW science fiction.

Catastrophic! and Unprecedented! are the other “go to” descriptors for the CAGW devotees. You must add the italics and exclamation mark to ensure adequate impact..

Reply to  Mr.
April 11, 2023 7:54 pm

forgot “model”

Tom Halla
April 11, 2023 2:59 pm

There should be an increase in the number of low intensity tornadoes, picked up only on Doppler radar. The local TV stations in Austin, Texas go to continuous coverage when a line of thunderstorms hits, and a large percentage of the detected tornadoes never actually touch down or do any damage. So better Doppler radar coverage should show an artifact in tornado numbers.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 12, 2023 10:10 am

Which, in fact, it does. That’s why most discussions are about F3 and higher tornadoes, since F3 is about the minimum you can identify post-touchdown as having actually occurred and those counts didn’t really change with the new radar deployment.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
April 12, 2023 1:11 pm

Also why most alarmist bullshit about tornadoes includes them all, so they can point to the spurious “increase” in tornadoes count that is just an artifact of better observation tools.

April 11, 2023 4:35 pm

Sever thunderstorms in the American Midwest form along the dry line. The dry line occurs is where dense dry air from the west flows under less-dense humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. These two air masses have nearly the same temperature, but the air from the Gulf has more water vapor. Since water vapor is lighter than air, the humid air is lifted when the dry air flows under it. The lifting action causes condensation which causes the strong thunderstorms.

See here for a cool video.

April 11, 2023 4:43 pm

The believers in man made runaway climate change blame every tornado .typhoon cyclone and flood on green house gas emissions .
I have one acquaintance who has a science degree ,state that a meter of sea level rise is locked in . Where he got that ridiculous notion from I do not know with sea level rise averaging 1.5mm per year it will be over 650 years to rise a meter.
Then we have tropical cyclones for as long as man has been on this earth .
The world news media hyped up the recent Cyclone Gabrielle that struck New Zealand blaming climate change .
The 2022 Tongan eruption had thrown 185 million tonnes of sea water into the atmosphere 12 months before , the largest volcanic eruption in the world in the last 100 years ..
Carbon Brief a warmist website stated that the extra water in the atmosphere raises the imminent risk of warming the world up to 1.5% C in the next 5 years because of the extra water vapour in the atmosphere .
This cannot be blamed on CO2 or fossil fuel .
The extra moisture in the atmosphere must fuel larger more powerful cyclones that track to the south every year to disperse the build up of water vapour and heat .
A new international study will examine whether the Tongan eruption CAN be linked to the extreme weather events experienced in New Zealand including Cyclone Gabrielle.
This is despite NIWA saying there is no “established “link between the events .
There is definitely a link as more water vapour is a green house gas which dwarfs all trace gases .

Joseph Zorzin
April 11, 2023 4:55 pm

““We also have expectations that the number of severe thunderstorms (hail, wind, tornado) will probably increase in the U.S.””

wow- expectations that probably…..
that sounds SO scientific!

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 11, 2023 5:21 pm

An IPCC climate “scientist” gathering “data” for the next assessment report to be released soon!

Gunga Din
Reply to  SteveG
April 12, 2023 8:24 am

I get that the crystal ball must be the computer monitor but where’s the keyboard and mouse?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Gunga Din
April 12, 2023 10:13 am

It’s like a theremin; no contact needed.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 12, 2023 1:14 pm

Those were the two words that jumped out at me too!

Joseph Zorzin
April 11, 2023 4:57 pm

“Warm, moist air is a key ingredient for developing severe tornadic storms”

gee, so there must be a lot of severe tornadic storms in the Amazon???

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 11, 2023 5:48 pm

well done JZ, you described Gaia and how to to put the brakes on tornadoes.

In combination with what Thomas explained above (I was gonna say but don’t need to now) = tornadoes need a supply of dry air coming from the west.

Sooooo, if West Texas. New Mexico and Arizona ## were ‘a little bit wetter’ than they are now, the supply of dry air would (haha) dry up and tornadoes would be snuffed out before they even form

## The area circled red on my screenshot = where tornadoes actually come from

So, to fix ‘Global Warming’, what you need to do is fix the tornadoes and you do that by planting a few trees (or ‘most anything permanently green & growing) in the places mentioned to make them like the tornado-free Amazon.

They will pump water into the air and newly-forming tornadoes won’t have the dry-air fuel they need.

Makes you wonder, what if a few more trees and greenery was to be planted in other places (places with shonky weather) around the world.

Would that fix all of GlobalWarmingClimateChange?

Or, maybe easier, what about not drying out places that already have a lot of water – such as existing farmland.
What about not using ploughs, tillage and Roundup quite so much?

Howzabout ‘Living Really Dangerously‘ = Howzabout about not eating sugar.
The word ‘living’ being the operative in that statement

i.e. Stop eating sugar = Stop the climate from changing

We do now see how *everything* is now wrong in this modern world
And it was the eating of sugar, a habit-forming depressant chemical, that made it all wrong

Dry Air 4 Tornadoes.JPG
Joseph Zorzin
April 11, 2023 5:04 pm

“Per the Post, “That suggests more tornadoes may be likely, too. But scientists aren’t ready to declare that yet.””

Scientists don’t make declarations- they may posit something but not declare something. Priests do a lot of declaring of dogma. Scientists build arguments which must be defended.

April 11, 2023 5:29 pm

The left ignores the history that does not support their current agenda and if they can’t ignore it then they either try to erase it or “revise” it.

And yes, with the advent and expansion of coverage of Dopplar Radar, and ever growing and spreading population, the number of tornadoes reported has climbed. But ALL of the increase is in EF-0 and 1s. For that reason NOAA Storm Prediction Center created an adjusted tornado count to try and make current count records more comparable to the older, pre-Dopplar records.

And as the author shows, the incidence of Violent tornadoes have decreased.

Storm Prediction Center Maps, Graphics, and Data Page (

BTW, the last reported EF-5 was May 20, 2013. Nearly a decade Thank God!

April 11, 2023 6:02 pm

Question. Does doppler radar differentiate between cold air funnels and touchdown tornadoes?

Reply to  barryjo
April 11, 2023 6:06 pm

I think that they can tell the difference only if the tornado is causing a debris field that shows up on the radar.

April 11, 2023 8:36 pm

The media trying to pretend this is new, when records have been kept for such a short time in the 4.5 Billion years that the Earth has existed, how many times has this happened before? The Media and the University Presidents and the NGO’s, and Michael Mann the Chief Villain, exploit scientific and historic ignorance.

Prosperity depends on mining. Defending the Earth is attacking prosperity. There are no Grid-Scale batteries, not likely to ever exist. The Glass Battery has not been done, most likely never will be done. The Lead-Acid Battery was invented in 1869, still in almost all vehicles. I worked on a military drone with a lithium battery, damn thing swelled up and exploded in the factory, almost killing the owner. Yuck

When the wind stops for a few days, and it is cloudy, people will vote this down!

Happening all over the world already. Abraham Lincoln said it best: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time. You cannot fool all of the people all of the time…”


Reply to  MichaelMoon
April 11, 2023 9:13 pm

So I want to cross-examine Michael Mann. I want to ask him some questions concerning the GHE. In particular, two questions about “Pressure-Broadening” and “Shoulders” and the magnitude of these effects, which he constantly references but cannot calculate. This is how he claims CO2 heats the Earth.

I know what a Di-Pole moment is, and I know the difference between a Di-Pole Moment and an Induced Di-Pole moment. This is the heart of this scientific controversy, not that there really is one, the clowns rely on scientific ignorance to continue this farce.

rbg@duke, where are you? Save us Obe-Wan, you are our only hope…


April 11, 2023 8:51 pm

Since climate must change by weather changing for 30 years, Climate can not change weather. There is a presumption of cause and effect. Arguing backwards is a fool’s logic.

Reply to  doonman
April 12, 2023 5:36 am

First off, the 30 year figure was one arbitrarily snatched from thin air by the IPCC.

Secondly, it boils down to they are promising to change the weather to be better in every way.

Reply to  rah
April 12, 2023 10:08 am

I don’t think it was the IPCC who defined climate. The word has been around far longer than they have.

Reply to  doonman
April 12, 2023 12:28 pm

Yes it has, but there were various definitions for the period. The IPCC selected the World Meteorological Organization’s definition, of 30 years, which was the shortest. They had to make the period they selected to define climate short so they could cut off their reporting of earlier weather that would not support their claims of “climate change”. And because the shorter the period the quicker they could claim the climate is changing.

The IPCC has a glossary of terms. Here is their definition of “Climate” from that glossary.

Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system.”

30 years is only about 1/2 or less of a cycle of the AMO (a 60 to 80 year cycle) which has a very pronounced effect on the weather in the Northern Hemisphere. And thus any real definition of climate should cover, at a minimum, the period of the AMO cycle.

The pronounced effect of the AMO and the fact that it has peaked in it’s warm (positive) phase and is now gradually heading down towards the colder (negative) phase, prompted Michael Mann to come out and proclaim that the AMO is no longer a factor. The alarmists know that when the AMO goes negative and the weather becomes more like that of the 60s and 70s, their position that CO2 is causing the world to continue to warm will become untenable.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  doonman
April 12, 2023 1:20 pm

Fools logic is all that the fools pushing the “climate crisis” bullshit have.

April 11, 2023 10:19 pm

We should just remember Professor William Gallus, for the time when retribution for deliberate intentional lies becomes possible!

Joao Martins
April 12, 2023 4:16 am

” Media FAILSCENSURE: Ignores Real-World Data … “

Candy Hall
April 12, 2023 7:57 am

But, as a wonderful trade off, Snow will never happen here in the US evermore!

John Hultquist
April 12, 2023 8:53 am

I think (?) 2010 was the year of:
Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2 (VORTEX2).
At the time this was the largest tornado research project in history.

The season was marginal, as I recall, with folks sitting around most of the time.

April 14, 2023 7:06 pm

Axios,Salon, Grist, WaPo?? What a line-up! Not sources of anything but BS. Why do thinking folks even go there?

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights