Twister ‘Cluster’

May 26, 2015

tornado___speed_painting_by_ojollands-d35q684Weak-faded sunshine this afternoon on California’s north coast, but mostly fairly-overcast with a chilly breeze — still ain’t not at all unpleasant.

Meanwhile, most unpleasant and pretty bad, the rain-gushing-weather in the Southwest US — river flooding in the central and southern Plains, mostly in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, eastern Kansas and western Missouri, and dozens of tornadoes have clobbered the whole area, already killing 15 in Texas and Oklahoma. Twelve people are confirmed missing in flooding along the Blanco River in Central Texas, another 30 still unaccounted — weather-horror, or horror-weather, either way.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, after he’d toured some of the destruction: ‘“You cannot candy coat it. It’s absolutely massive.”
Terrifying, too — tornadoes one after another amid walls of flooding water.

(Illustration: ‘Tornado – speed-painting,’ by FableImpact, found here).

Whip-like extreme weather, though, rolling through the Southwest US, boiling with disaster is just an example — as the climate warms, the whole scenario will only get worse. A new study in the journal Climate Dynamics reports a tornado’s potential for violence will increase, and maybe in clusters.
Details from today’s PRI:

The number of tornadoes from year to year doesn’t vary much, says James Elsner, a professor at Florida State University and co-author of the paper, “The Increasing Efficiency of Tornado Days in the United States.”
“The US gets about 1,000 tornadoes a year — some years more, some less.”
But the nature of tornado activity does seem to be changing.
Elsner’s study found that, though the total number of tornadoes has remained constant, they are occurring on fewer days and arriving in larger clusters — which can mean longer, more powerful tornadoes with greater potential for destruction.
A super cell thunderstorm can create a single tornado that lasts anywhere from a few minutes to 20 or 30 minutes, on average.
But as that storm continues to move downwind, it can produce additional tornadoes an hour or two later.
This type of clustered tornado activity is happening more regularly, Elsner says, and the clusters appear to be growing larger.
“We can [still] see a single isolated tornado, but what we’re seeing is generally between 10 and 30 tornadoes in a given cluster,” he says.
“They are not always at the same location, exactly, but over an area the size of eastern Kansas, for example. I think the fact that they are bunching up both in space and time is cause for some concern.”

It’s not just tornadoes.
In the South Central US and Mexico, entire regions went from dry and arid conditions to flood in a matter of hours.
“We know that both of those extremes, in terms of drought and in terms of extreme precipitation, have been linked to climate change,” says Andrew Freedman, Science Editor of Mashable.
It’s right to think that extreme weather is off the charts.
Climate changes is certainly linked to such events.
Freedman says the intensity of storms is certainly increasing, but so is our ability to see the weather events.
On Facebook, you can get an almost daily feed of weather disasters from around the world.
Despite advances in forecasting, extreme events like tornados and heat waves and flooding will continue to catch us by surprise.
“The floods in Texas and Oklahoma is something that forecasters saw two to three weeks in advance,” says Freedman.
“The problem is that a forecast is only as good how people use it. So if I give you a 100 percent accurate forecast and you respond in a totally opposite way? That’s an unsuccessful forecast.”

Odd that, ‘totally oppose way.’

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