The tornadoes of climate change


Unprecedented images from the biblical catastrophe in six Midwestern and southern United States states have shocked the American people. Violent tornadoes leveled everything in their path. In addition to the 88 deaths reported (74 in Kentucky, including 12 children) about 100 others are missing and rescue teams are now searching only for the dead in the rubble. Entire towns have disappeared. Although scientists had achieved almost 100% success rates in predicting when and where the tornadoes would hit, this did not prevent the many deaths and the huge disaster.

Unusual tornado barriers are linked to climate change and, according to many scientists, much worse natural disasters are expected. When asked what conditions caused this tragedy, meteorologists point to two factors that contributed significantly: high temperatures and strong winds. As mentioned, there is usually not much instability in the intensity of the wind in winter, because the air is not so hot or humid, but this did not happen last weekend and, according to meteorological forecasts, a similar phenomenon might be repeated this weekend.

The states hit by tornadoes showed spring temperatures last Friday and in some areas had set a record, reaching 27 degrees Celsius. “The atmosphere did not know it was December, a few days before Christmas,” said one meteorologist, noting that these conditions could be the product of many things, from the La Nina climate pattern that brings warmer-than-average temperatures to the south. USA, from the highest of the average water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, but also until the hot winter that is more and more common because the planet is warming. And these high temperatures created hot, humid air that helped form storms. And as soon as the storm formed, a strong shear of the wind extended the duration of the tornadoes.

While tornadoes usually lose energy within minutes, last weekend’s tornadoes lasted for hours. The most important element of almost all the analyzes and explanations of the phenomenon by the experts was their common assessment that now the country will experience more and worse tornadoes, but also beyond their typical time and place, with a catalytic factor for their creation the climate change. Some scientists also believe that there is already a “shift” in the frequency of tornadoes to the east and estimates that leveling tornadoes will not be limited to the southern and midwestern states, but will also occur in eastern states such as Pennsylvania and New York. New Jersey, where such extreme weather events have already been recorded.

Hot weather is a key component of tornadoes, so climate change is thought to change the environment in which they form. The United States ranks first in the world in tornadoes, averaging about 1,200 a year. In recent years, it has been found that they can occur in any part of the country and at any time of the year, something that did not happen before. Much of these tornadoes typically form in an area of ​​the central United States, commonly known as the “Tornado Alley.”

Historically, tornadoes in the United States have been associated with vast plains, although experts say the so-called “tornado alley” can be misleading, as their threat is somewhat moving. It shifts from the southeast, during the coldest months of the year, to the central plains in May and June, as well as to the northern plains and the midwestern regions in early summer. When we talk about “tornado season” we are usually referring to the time of year when the United States sees the most tornadoes, which peak in May and June in the southern plains and later in the northern Midwestern states. Therefore, the tornadoes of last weekend were completely “out of season”. Heat and humidity throughout the South were quite unusual for this time period.

Some scientists have argued that while climate change does play a role, it is still more difficult to predict the effects of global warming on tornadoes than other extreme weather events, such as heat waves and prolonged droughts, which contribute to global warming. the abrupt alternation of high and low temperatures caused by hurricanes and cyclones. The impact of rising temperatures on the frequency and intensity of tornadoes seems to be even less well known, but most experts point out that climate change is causing severe storms, creating the atmospheric conditions for tornadoes to erupt. US President Joe Biden, who visited the affected areas on Wednesday and walked among the rubble, spoke of the worst tornadoes in US history.

Tornadoes in Cyprus

Climate change will contribute to strong tornadoes in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in coastal or coastal areas, experts say. According to the Meteorological Service, the deadliest tornado in Cyprus had occurred on December 22, 1969. At that time, a group of sea urchins had hit Limassol and Episkopi and, in addition to the great disasters, four people had lost their lives.

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