Mind-boggling tornado count, deaths raise hard questions about causes, warnings & response

This entry was posted by on Wednesday, 25 May, 2011 at

The Washington Post – May 25, 2011

Approximately 1,000 tornadoes. Nearly 500 dead. The numbers are staggering as the 2011 tornado season rages at a record pace. From the the EF5 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., killing at least 122 people to become the deadliest tornado in the U.S. since 1950, to the pair of explosive and deadly April tornado outbreaks, and now also yesterday’s Plains outbreak moving east today, this year’s barrage of violent twisters has people asking questions about everything from the impact of climate change on tornadoes, to the accuracy and effectiveness of short-term severe weather warnings. Given the sheer volume of the tornado chatter, the online equivalent to a twister’s whipping winds, it’s useful to take a step back and review the important questions that need to be asked at this point, while reminding ourselves of what is generally known.

Climate change connection?

First, on the “are all these tornadoes a manifestation of global warming?” question, there is a consensus on that, but it’s neither comforting nor conclusive. We simply don’t know.

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