Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Climate:  Is This Tornado Season the Worst Ever?

... because of the looseness of the reporting record, it is hard to say April 2011 was the worst tornado month ever, or even the worst in recent memory. For starters, due to increases in population density, there are more people to report tornadoes. Most storms today are caught on camera and many are uploaded to the Internet within minutes. However, in the years before everyone owned a convenient camera or settled in particular locales, many tornadoes simply went unreported in rural areas. Therefore, bigger outbreaks may have happened in the past, but we will never know.
The rash of storms also brought another suspect into the public discussion: climate change. While this makes for interesting discussion, scientists are not yet sure of the fate of tornado frequency in the future. Global climate models indicate that some of the ingredients necessary for tornado-producing storms, such as instability, will increase. But others, like wind shear, may decrease.

For more, see Is This Tornado Season the Worst Ever? by Victor Gensini, May 22, 2011 at Popular Mechanics.

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