No Clear Evidence That Tornadoes Are More Frequent or Intense Than 40 to 60 Years Ago

Damage from tornadoes depends on the strength of buildings, which depends on broad economic growth. To reduce harm, the level of economic growth matters as much or more than the frequency and intensity of tornadoes.

(p. A12) Some studies have concluded that as global warming advances, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, favorable conditions for severe storms in the United States will increase this century.

. . .

It remains less certain as to whether those increasingly severe storms might lead to more tornadoes. These complex events are harder to model, and so far there doesn’t appear to be clear evidence that, for instance, tornadoes have changed in frequency or intensity over the past 40 to 60 years.

. . .

“We might not know exactly how climate change is going to affect tornadoes going forward, but we do know that there are lot of things we can do to protect people today,” said Stephen Strader, a disaster scientist at Villanova University.

. . .

“There are always two sides of the coin when it comes to disasters,” Dr. Strader said. “There’s the climate itself, but there’s also society vulnerability. We can work to address climate change, but we shouldn’t lose focus on what we can do today to improve survivability against these extreme events.”

For the full story, see:

Brad Plumer, Winston Choi-Schagrin and Hiroko Tabuchi. “As World Warms, Bracing for More Extreme Weather.” The New York Times (Saturday, December 18, 2021): A12.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 17, 2021, and has the title “Examining the Role of Climate Change in a Week of Wild Weather.”)

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