Tornado Drought Officially Over

May 21, 2013

I’m declaring the tornado drought officially over.

Monday’s horrifying events in Oklahoma are still being sorted out.  Standard disclaimers apply, “No particular weather event …” etc

I have a statement from Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the Natonal Center for Atmospheric Research by email:

trenberthleftOf course tornadoes are very much a weather phenomenon. They come from certain thunderstorms, usually super-cell thunderstorms that are in a wind shear environment that promotes rotation. The main climate change connection is via the basic instability
of the low level air that creates the convection and thunderstorms in the first place.
Warmer and moister conditions are the key for unstable air.

The climate change effect is probably only a 5 to 10% effect in terms of the instability and subsequent rainfall, but it translates into up to a 32% effect in terms of damage.
(It is highly nonlinear).
So there is a chain of events and climate change mainly affects the first link: the basic buoyancy of the air is increased. Whether that translates into a super-cell storm and one with a tornado is largely chance weather.

Below: Damage in Moore, Oklahoma, from the air.



10 Responses to “Tornado Drought Officially Over”

  1. Senator James Inhofe –

    I accuse you of mass murder. You could have listened to climate scientists and taken the lead from the time when we learned about the connection between CO2, climate change and the severe weather that was predicted to happen. From 1994 when you entered the Senate until today we could have dropped our carbon footprint as a society to zero or below.

    But instead of listening to the 98% of climate scientists who agree that these severe weather events, like the tornado that ripped through Oklahoma today, are essentially manmade, you took your talking points (and millions of dollars) from the “energy sector.” Instead of getting your vulnerable state of Oklahoma and the US and the industrialized world off of coal and oil and natural gas and onto renewables, you politicized the issue and have proven what an evil fool you really are.

    Now 51 people are dead in Oklahoma, and dozens more will likely be found dead in the morning. You, James Inhofe, are guilty of the murder of those people now and if we do not stop you there will be millions more innocent people who will die in the decades to come as the Planet warms beyond anything imaginable. Without a complete reversal of course, by the end of this century we will lose all the fish and shellfish in the oceans, all the major coastal cities of the World will have to be relocated, and your state will once again be part of a dustbowl, this time stretching from Texas to Michigan.

    You have the world’s record for evil, beyond Mao and Hitler and Stalin, because you have accelerated the madness of this race toward extinction of humanity in a man made climate hell on Earth. There is no scientific controversy here, simply a gargantuan political error. If the human race goes extinct, I want the last persons living to know that the man most responsible for the mass murder of all of humankind was Senator James Inhofe who did not simply stand by and watch this happen, but who actively invited our destruction by publishing a completely counterfactual book in 2012 entitled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”

    And you are still at it, even this week – Have you no shame?

  2. Chesapeake Energy, the Oklahoma City-based oil and gas company, has donated $1 million to the people of Moore, OK..The company is being called a ‘good corporate neighbor’…So, Chesapeake helps wreck the climate and then gets called a good neighbor for helping to pick up the mess it created. Hmmm.

  3. […] I'm declaring the tornado drought officially over. Monday's horrifying events in Oklahoma are still being sorted out. Standard disclaimers apply, "No particular weather event …" etc I have a sta…  […]

    • Sorry all my info did not post before

      Which City (major) would you think has the most destructive Tornados (from the weather channel site above)?
      Birmingham Alabama or Oklahoma City

      Answer: Birmingham Alabama only 85 to 101 Oklahoma City (from 50s to 2011) with 2 F4, 1 EF-4, and 2 F5 with 97 deaths from them.

      The state with the most Deaths1981 -2010 Alabama 6 per year Tennessee 5 per year
      The state with the most Deaths1991 -2010 Alabama 7 per year Tennessee 7 per year
      The state with the most Deaths2001 -2010 Tennessee 10 per year Missouri 8 per year
      Note this excludes the 2011 super outbreak which had 238 deaths for Alabama and 32 for Tennessee. And May Joplin Missouri 189
      Area with the highest concentration of tornados in the last 20 years is south Mississippi and Alabama area.
      Area most tornado watches? same south Mississippi and Alabama

      The overall pattern of tornados (1952-2011)
      Anecdotally it looks like there is an increase but this is more an artifact of tornado detection

  4. … since here is a “heavy politics” is – for balance – we should add a little bit of science.

    98% of American and Australian climate scientists claims that for the current warming are responsible our GHGs and that the “our” warming are – in its effect – harmful.

    With regard to extreme events – such as tornadoes, this climatologists of the opinion are very different …

    Best cite here the last IPCC report on the subject – “Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation”(2012):

    “There is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail because of data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems.”

    “There is low confidence in projections of small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail because competing physical processes may affect future trends and because current climate models do not simulate such phenomena.”

    I. What is a: “… competing physical processes may affect future trends …”?,
    II. What are the: “… data inhomogeneities and inadequacies … ”?

    ad. I.
    Kevin Trenberth argues above interesting things:

    “They come from certain thunderstorms, usually super-cell thunderstorms that are in a wind shear environment that promotes rotation.”

    „… (It is highly nonlinear) …”

    It is a clear example of our storms and hurricanes:

    NASA: The Impact of Climate Change on Natural Disasters ( As a result, global warming may cause the temperature difference between the poles and the equator to decrease. and as the difference decreases, so should the number of storms, says George Tselioudis, a research scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University. But even as a warming climate might decrease the overall number of storms that form, it could increase the number of intense storms. As temperatures continue to rise, more and more water vapor could evaporate into the atmosphere, and water vapor is the fuel for storms. “If we are creating an atmosphere more loaded with humidity, any storm that does develop has greater potential to develop into an intense storm,” says Tselioudis.”

    But … when trying to check it out – this hypothesis ( … :
    “The new approach by Nolan and Rappin, developed in collaboration with Dr. Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uses computer models with much more accurate representation of the processes that lead to hurricane formation, much the same way a digital image with more pixels allows for a more detailed photographic image.” “We designed the computer simulations to show that as the ocean temperature increased, hurricanes would form more rapidly and easily, even in the presence of wind shear,” says Nolan, associate professor of Meteorology at the Rosenstiel School. “Instead, we got exactly the opposite result. As the water temperature increased, the effectiveness of the wind shear in suppressing hurricane formation actually became greater.”

    Tom Knutson (2008, 2013 – write:
    “Turning to future climate projections, current climate models suggest that tropical Atlantic SSTs will warm dramatically during the 21st century, and that upper tropospheric temperatures will warm even more than SSTs. Furthermore, most of the models project increasing levels of vertical wind shear over parts of the western tropical Atlantic (see Vecchi and Soden 2007). Both the increased warming of the upper troposphere relative to the surface and the increased vertical wind shear are detrimental factors for hurricane development and intensification, while warmer SSTs favor development and intensitification. To explore which effect of these effects might “win out”, we can run experiments with our regional downscaling model.”

    This is confirmed by Wang (2009,
    “Finally, the conclusion of WL08 is supported by future model projections under global warming scenarios for the 21st century. By analyzing a suite of coupled oceanatmosphere model outputs, Vecchi and Soden [2007] report an increase in the vertical wind shear over the Caribbean Sea for future global warming. Our analysis of IPCC-AR4 models (D. B. Enfield et al., unpublished manuscript, 2008) shows that as the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation weakens under future global warming, a cooling effect will cause the North Atlantic to warm more slowly than other oceans (i.e., the Pacific and Indian Oceans) and thus the environment is physically consistent with that under a small Atlantic warm pool. It has been demonstrated that a small Atlantic warm pool enhances the vertical wind shear in the MDR and decreases the moist static instability of the troposphere, both of which disfavor Atlantic hurricane activity [Wang et al., 2008b].”

    Warming launches two opposite forces – so it is possible that warming will increase at first and later decrease the number and strength of tornadoes (“… nonlinear trend …”) or vice versa …

    ad. II. “… data inhomogeneities and inadequacies … ”

    Theoretically, we have in recent decades, the increase in the number of tornadoes (total -

    What is the reason for the increase of the total number of tornadoes in the U.S.?
    Most likely this is the same reason that here: Landsea, Christopher W., Gabriel A. Vecchi, Lennart Bengtsson, Thomas R. Knutson, (2010,
    “While it is possible that the recorded increase in short-duration TCs represents a real climate signal, the authors consider that it is more plausible that the increase arises primarily from improvements in the quantity and quality of observations, along with enhanced interpretation techniques.”

    However, the number of strong tornadoes has decreased (
    Work Wang & Lee 2008 ( also shows decreasing trend for landfalling hurricanes (Fig. 4.)

    Was are a the result of global warming?

    Probably not. Currently, more rigorously checks the force of tornadoes and hurricanes. Formerly observers want simply “show off” – that they have observed a strong tornadoes, and therefore “added” to them power … Most likely reason for this is there was decreasing trend in the number of strong tornadoes.
    Therefore (as he wants IPCC): “…is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes …”

    And what can we say about the recent tornado seasons
    ( ?:
    “The cold weather has delayed the start of severe weather season so far in 2013. As a result, the past year has left a near record low number of strong tornadoes in the country. Statistical models estimate the low number of twisters from this past year happens about once every 55,556 years [!!! …]. On the flip side, two years before it (2010 to 2011) was the most active time on record for EF1 or stronger tornadoes. This includes several massive tornado outbreaks including the Joplin tornado in 2011 and other EF5 twisters. That number of strong tornadoes is only estimated to occur about once every 1,164 years [millennial quasi- cycle?]. So in the world of tornado statistics, the country just went from an extreme high number of twisters to an extreme low in just a couple of years.”

    P.S. What’s interesting, what is – I wrote above, I think: I’m still anti-fascist and anti-communist – and even more interesting; I do not have “remorse” …

  5. omnologos Says:

    Some people blame bad things on gays. Others, on Sen. Inhofe. In 1692, it was them witches.

  6. prokaryotes Says:

    James B. Elsner, an atmospheric scientist at Florida State University:

    “Climate change increases the available energy for tornadoes through a warmer and moister atmosphere. Wind shear decreases in the global mean, but this might be irrelevant locally when the jet stream dives southward like it did last weekend across the Plains.

    “I believe there is evidence that the strongest tornadoes are getting stronger. They are certainly getting longer and wider.”

  7. […] a wake, many are doubt a attribute between such beast storms and meridian change. Here’s a statement from Dr. Kevin Trenberth of a National Center for Atmospheric Research, in response to that […]

  8. […] 2013/05/21: PSinclair: Tornado Drought Officially Over […]

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