Via Linnea Lueken
A recent article by a meteorologist writing for WDSU New Orleans, “Study says increased number of tornadoes linked to climate change, ” The false assumption that climate change is causing more tornadoes in the southeastern United States. In fact, the data shows that overall tornadoes nationwide tend to taper off as the planet warms modestly. The author of the article appears to have misrepresented or misinterpreted tornado research.
Meteorologist Adam McWilliams said climate change is shifting more tornadoes into “Dixie Alley,” an area in the Southeast United States with a high frequency of tornado outbreaks.
McWilliams writes in the WDSU article, “National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] said that as of January 2019, 99 of the nation’s 120 tornado-related deaths – 83% – have occurred in the Southeast. During the 2010s, NOAA said 54% of tornado deaths occurred in the Southeast, up from 25% in the 1980s.
This is a poor argument. Logically, if the number of tornadoes in Tornado Alley decreases, like Some studies show thatthen the death rate by region will also change.
After misrepresenting NOAA’s findings, McWilliams referenced another report, writing, “A 2016 study from Purdue University states that climate change is associated with this increase in tornado activity.” ,” and describe the results of the study, which showed an eastward bias for tornado occurrence over time.
inside Purdue Newsletter linked in the paper, the study’s authors make more modest, scientifically prudent claims. The researchers frankly state that more research is needed before they can definitively point to climate change as the culprit.
Their study divided the past sixty years into two thirty years and analyzed tornado occurrences, with the previous thirty years representing a colder period.
From the release:
The data show a significant decline in both the annual number and the number of tornado days in the central plains’ traditional “tornado alley,” supported by declines in the summer and fall. . However, annual values were maintained in the southeast with some increase in “Dixie Alley” in part due to a significant fall increase from Mississippi to Indiana, Agee said.
Severe tornadoes are decreasing across the country, contrary to the claims of alarmists, the fact that NOAA has already recently tried to hide. Climate Realism has addressed this issue many times, including this, thisand thisEg.
Like a NOAA tornado Climate and Data explanation page:
“The increase in tornado numbers is almost entirely due to weak events (EF0-EF1) that are reported more frequently than today due to a combination of better detection, vehicle coverage greater communication, active alert verification efforts, storm detection, storm chase, more spread (target damage), more people and camera documentation (including cell phones) ) better than ever”.
Understood! Better detection of weak tornadoes, not more tornadoes, is responsible for the seemingly increase in tornadoes overall.
When Climate at a glance: Cyclones analyzed extreme tornadoes (EF3+), shown in the Figure below, which were previously more difficult to ignore, showing a noticeable decline.
Cyclones are weather phenomena and cannot be conclusively linked to climate change. When asked the question “Does climate change cause tornadoes,” NOAA’s tornado study Frequently asked questions compiled by Roger Edwards answered firmly “No” and went on to explain that “Climate models cannot address individual tornadoes or thunderstorms.”
Even the VORTEX Southeast page linked to McWilliams refutes his premise and goes into detail as to why tornado outbreaks in the Southeast appear to be worse than other regions.
From them home page:
For example, a tornado in the Southeast occurs in an area typically characterized by hills and trees that reduce visibility of the horizon. They are also more likely to occur at night, fast-moving storms, and early in the year than in other parts of the country. Furthermore, vulnerability is increased due to unique socioeconomic factors, which VORTEX-Southeast research has shown include inadequate housing, housing types and greater population densities than Other tornado-prone areas in the U.S.
The real problem for the southeast, especially Mississippi, which McWilliams spent the second half of his paper dealing with, is weak infrastructure and a larger, denser population with so many people living in it. in mobile homes. This combination of dense populations and fragile infrastructure offers more vulnerable, more tornado damage targets.
As a meteorologist, McWilliams should have realized this and been more honest in his reporting of tornado occurrences in the southeast. It appears that before sitting down to write, McWilliams did not perform the necessary research to provide a balanced, well-informed article on tornado trends in the Southeast United States. Perhaps it’s intentional, as just a misrepresentation of the evidence can make alarming claims that climate change is causing more tornadoes.
Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy. As a Heartland Institute intern in 2018, she co-authored the Heartland Institute Policy Brief “Drawling Four Persistent Myths of Hydraulic Fracture.”