Weather Extremes Driving Climate Awareness

April 6, 2023

Science – More tornadoes in the most extreme U.S. tornado outbreaks – Tippett et al, 2016:

The frequency of tornado outbreaks (clusters of tornadoes) and the number of extremely powerful tornado events have been increasing over nearly the past half-century in the United States. Tippett et al. found that tornado outbreaks have become more common since the 1970s. This increase seems to have been driven by consistent changes in the meteorological environment that make tornadoes more likely to form. However, the changes are not necessarily those that one would expect from climate change, which makes it difficult to predict whether this trend will continue.


One in three U.S. adults report they have been personally affected by an extreme weather event in the past two years. Most commonly, they report experiencing extreme cold, hurricanes, or snow, ice storms or blizzards.

The results are based on Gallup’s annual Environment poll, conducted March 1-18. This marks the first time Gallup has asked Americans about their experiences with extreme weather events as part of this survey.

Residents of the South (39%) and West (35%) are significantly more likely than those living in the East (24%) and Midwest (27%) to say they have recently experienced an extreme weather event.

  • Southern residents are most likely to say they were affected by extreme cold (12%) or hurricanes (12%) and, to a lesser extent, tornadoes (7%).
  • Among Western residents, wildfires (13%), extreme heat (8%) and drought (7%) are most commonly reported.
  • Floods (6%) and hurricanes (6%) are the most frequent responses among Eastern residents, while Midwestern residents most often mention snow or ice storms (7%), floods (6%), or tornadoes (6%).

Extreme-Weather Victims More Concerned About Climate Change

Many scientists attribute recent extreme weather patterns to the effects of climate change or global warming. Gallup’s annual Environment survey tracks a number of measures of climate-change concern and attitudes. In general, extreme-weather victims worry more about climate change and are more likely to view it as a threat than those who have not experienced extreme weather in the past two years.

For example, 63% of those who have been affected by extreme weather worry “a great deal” about global warming or climate change, compared with 33% who have not been affected.

Nearly eight in 10 extreme-weather victims, 78%, believe the effects of global warming have already begun, compared with 51% of nonvictims. Sixty-four percent of victims and 36% of nonvictims say global warming will pose a serious threat to their way of life during their lifetime.


In Gallup’s survey, those who report personal impacts of extreme weather are:

  • 29 percentage points more likely to believe seriousness of global warming is “generally underestimated” in the news  
  • 28 percentage points more likely to say global warming will pose “a serious threat” to their way of life
  • 20 percentage points more likely to agree with prioritizing environmental protection over economic growth

A string of recent victories for progressive candidates has underscored the power, especially, of young voters in the United States, for whom climate is a top line issue, coming out in historically large numbers, and overwhelmingly supporting candidates who share the concern about climate change.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: