The deadly outbreak of tornadoes that tore through parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Illinois, killed dozens and left wreckage over hundreds of miles has raised the need to better understand the connection between the climate crisis and tornadoes – which is not robust enough so far, climate experts agree.
Joe Biden, the US President, has asked the Environmental Protection Agency for (EPA) to investigate the impact of global warming on recent tornadoes. “The specific impact on these specific storms, I can’t say at this point. But the fact is that we know everything is more intense when the climate is warming,” Biden said in a speech.
At least 80 peopleAfter the series of tornadoes last weekend that left devastation in several states, more than 70 people were killed. 38 tornadoes have been reported so far, with Andy Beshear, the Kentucky Governor, describing them as some of the most destructive in recent history. “The reports are heartbreaking,” he told reporters.
It all began last Friday, when a storm system formed west and arrived in the country’s central part. This brought in cold and dense air. This created unstable atmospheric conditions due to the interaction of record-breaking warmth with cold air masses. Storms can result from the interaction of cold air masses and warm air masses. tornadoesAs seen in the US,
Spring is usually when most tornadoes occur in the US, but that doesn’t mean that can’t happen at other times throughout the year. Tornadoes can strike at any time of day or night, as we see in the Southeast. Even though nighttime tornadoes are quite common in the Southeast, they are more common in spring and early winter.
Tornadoes can be classified according to the intensity of damage using the Enhanced Fujita scale (EF). At least four of the tornadoes reported so far were EF-3, and at least five were EF-2. These tornadoes are strong and can reach speeds of up 200 miles per hour. It takes several days to determine tornado ratings, so it is possible that more severe storms will be reported soon.
Kentucky was left without power for over 50,000 people. The governor declared a state emergency. The worst affected area was Mayfield, where a roof from a candle factory collapsed, resulting in mass casualties. At least two people were killed when the roof of an Amazon warehouse in Illinois collapsed on Friday night.
Tornadoes & Climate Change
Unlike other extreme events such as droughts and floods, research about the link between tornadoes and climate change hasn’t been as robust yet. However, scientists believe this is due to inconsistent and unreliable historical records about tornadoes as well as the unpredictable nature of these extreme weather phenomena. Victor Gensini, a prominent tornado expert, believes there is a connection.
“When you start putting a lot of these events together, and you start looking at them in the aggregate sense, the statistics are pretty clear that not only has there sort of been a change — a shift, if you will — of where the greatest tornado frequency is happening,” Gensini told CNN. “But these events are becoming perhaps stronger, more frequent and also more variable.”
A study from 2018Gensini, Harold Brooks and others found that tornadoes have increased in the Southeast and Midwest over the past 40 years and decreased in the central and souther Great Plains region. This is known as the tornado Alley. Climate change could be influencing the location of tornadoes.