Global warming and tornadoes

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX – Everyone is talking about the terrible tornado season we’ve had in the U.S. so far in 2011.  

The number of deaths is approaching 500, the worst number recorded since 519 deaths in 1953. That’s nearly 50 years!

A lot of folks are trying to blame it on this or that and right up at the top of the list: global warming.

It seems the folks at NBC did a lot to spark this debate during a special called “The Path of Destruction.” I haven’t seen the program but have read about it and it was, at least, inferred that global warming was causing more and bigger tornadoes.

The experts say tornadoes just don’t work that way. If we get warmer overall there will be less contrast between air masses.

Do we hear about a lot of tornadoes in the tropics?  No because the key ingredient is cold, dry air. If we don’t have that, we don’t have tornadic thunderstorms. Yes, the tropics have big thunderstorms but rarely do they produce tornadoes.

In fact, we’ve seen global cooling that last year and a persistent La Niña pattern has kept the middle part of the U.S. cooler than normal.  

That’s the key. There’s cold air waiting around ready to mix with the juicy stuff out of the Gulf of Mexico.

If you want to read more, go to