Last week a “super outbreak” of tornadoes tore paths of destruction through the South, taking more than 350 lives.
Managing EditorClimate Central
I agree with climate scientist Kevin Trenberth who says it’s irresponsible not to mention climate change in the aftermath of extreme events. But it’s also problematic to overstate the case, as some journalists and activists have done. Tornadoes are very small-scale events, and current climate models can’t simulate them all that well. One thing we do know is that human populations have increased in vulnerable areas.
Meteorologists, who spend their professional lives warning people about severe storms, find it bewildering that the second deadliest tornado day in history would occur in 2011. They broadcast warnings for 90 percent of the tornadoes with an average lead time of 24 minutes. So why did so many people die?
I’ll be watching …
social scientists as they attempt to determine whether or not people in the South respond to tornado warnings in the same way as people in the Midwest.
And another thing:
May is here, and May is typically the busiest tornado month of the year. So I’ll be following what’s going on during the rest of the tornado season.
ReporterThe Blade, Toledo
A warmer climate could lead to more tornadoes, fewer tornadoes, stronger tornadoes, or the same. What’s amazing is that you can have the same exact conditions and get a tornado one time and not another. They are by far the hardest things to predict from a long-term climate standpoint, far more difficult to predict than, say, hurricanes, which scientists confidently forecast will happen more frequently with a warmer climate.
Proceed with caution:
Scientists are showing restraint about the uncertain cause-and-effect relationship between climate change and tornadoes. Reporters who don't follow suit can come across as alarmist and damage the credibility of climate change reporting.
I’ll be watching …
the research. Scientists haven't ruled out the possibility of cause-and-effect between climate change and tornadoes. They've just said the research -- so far -- is inconclusive. I’ll also be watching how the insurance industry is following climate change research.