“We were being hit by tornadoes long before anyone talked about climate change, and even before it was called ‘global cooling,’ before it became ‘global warming,’ and then ‘climate change. The same thing that happened last week happened 14 years ago, 25 years ago, and 30 years ago.”Ho-hum, no mamby pamby libs gonna tell us about tornadoes. I saw an interesting blurb the other day. While Oklahoma has indeed long been hit by the dangerous cyclones, the events are getting more powerful of late.
According to the National Weather Service last friday's tornado in Oklahoma was the widest tornado in American history. The El Reno, Okla., tornado had a damage path up to 2.6 miles wide and 16.2 miles long, an area wider and longer than Manhattan. That breaks the previous record of 2.5 miles held by the F-4 tornado that struck Wilber-Hallam, Nebraska on 22 May 2004.
The storm's rating was EF5, the highest possible rating. The storm had winds of up to 295 mph. This beats every world wind record except the more-than-300-mph reading measured during the Moore, Okla., tornado in 1999. Nineteen people died as a result of the most recent storm and flooding. The Moore tornado of May 20 was also an EF5.
Meteorologists say that it is extremely rare to have two tornados top the Enhanced Fujita scale in a one month period. There have only been eight F5/EF5 tornadoes in Oklahoma since 1950, the Weather Underground reports, and two of them have hit in the past two weeks. The Moore Tornado on May 20, killed 24 people.
On average, more than 1,000 tornadoes hit the U.S. each year, and only one might be an EF5, according to the National Climatic Data Center. By the way, 97% of all climate scientists believe that human activity is at least partially responsible for causing global warming and the resultant deleterious changes in earth's climate.
There is an interesting article on the subject by Harry Enten over at Mother Jones, Is Climate Change to Blame for the Oklahoma Tornado? Enten doesn't really answer the question conclusively but he does offer this:
...it's still not by accident that the six least active and four most active tornado seasons have been felt over the past decade. Another statistic that points to the irregular patterns is that the three earliest and four latest starts to the tornado season have all occurred in the past 15 years.The Weather Channel's Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostrow is finally convinced. Here is an interesting panel discussion on the subject that took place yesterday:
Basically, we've had this push and pull in recent history. Some years the number of tornadoes is quite high, and some years it is quite low. We're not seeing "average" seasons as much any more, though the average of the extremes has led to no meaningful change to the average number of tornadoes per year. Expect this variation to continue into the future as less wind shear and warmer moister air fight it out.