Unless you live in Tornado Alley, you may not be familiar with annual tornado season — March, April and May. That being said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care.
Mother NatureÂ may soonÂ makeÂ everyone care when she ramps up tornado frequency by the year 2080. Researchers now believe that global warming will directly impact severe weather during tornado season, increasingÂ the annual total of twisters within the next 65 years. This is because the weather will likely get stuck in patterns that favor tornadoes and extremely stormy weather.
“We see this trend in a lot of extreme weather,” said lead study author Victor Gensini. “Changes in the jet stream are causing the jet to break down and get stuck in these blocking patterns. It just so happens it could be in a favorable pattern for tornadoes or a really bad pattern [for tornadoes].”
The study, which was published on Jan. 15 inÂ Climatic Change,Â also notes that tornado season will also peak earlier around March, rather than May.
“Because of increasing temperatures, we’ll have more [atmospheric] instability earlier in the year, and instability is the fuel for tornadoes,” Gensini continued.
But why should anyone really listen to Gensini?
Because he isn’t using a climate model to conduct his research. Climate models are not made to predict how global warming may impact the development of tornadoes. Gesini’s model uses new forecasting techniques to recreate hazardous storms that generate tornadoes, hail and wind.
Whether or not you believe in the potential for more tornadoes (or global warming, for that matter), it’s worth taking a look at the growing suspicion that our actions areÂ impactingÂ what falls from the sky. The amount of rain or snow falling in the heaviest one percent of storms has risen 20 percent on average in the U.S. It is almost three times the rate of increase of total precipitation between 1958 and 2007, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Global warming, which is thought to be caused by heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere, is being blamed for an increase in ocean evaporation. High levels of water vapor in the atmosphere can create favorable conditions for heavier precipitation (Think hurricanes).
But without going too much into meteorology and science, let’s back up and re-examine the initial study. Whether or not the researchers’ predictions are realized, we’ve already seen record snowfall in the Northeast, paralyzing drought in the West, and strong tropical storms in the Atlantic. What more proof do we need?
- Oskin, Becky. “Global Warming May Spawn More Southeast US Tornadoes.” February 7, 2015. LiveScience.com.
- “Is Global Warming Linked to Severe Weather?” June 17, 2011. Union of Concerned Scientists.