Apr 29 2011

Extreme Weather in U.S. Linked to Global Warming

tornadoesIntense storms have battered the South, Southeast, and South-central U.S. on and off for nearly a week. Thunderstorms have led to flash floods, hail has come crashing down from the sky, and hundreds of tornadoes have wrought havoc on unprepared populations. This past Saturday tornadoes killed at least 23 people in North Carolina. Wednesday brought the most violent weather, leaving a climbing death toll on Friday of over 300 people. Alabama was hardest hit on Wednesday, with tornadoes devastating entire towns and leaving at least 195 dead. Howard Brooks of the Storm Prediction center estimated that some tornadoes were up to a mile wide, with wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. In some cases they hit ground for tens of miles. A tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for three to four miles, leaving a swath of rubble a half-mile wide in its wake. About 788,000 residents statewide were left without electricity on Thursday. The power also went out for three reactors at Alabama’s Browns Ferry Nuclear plant, triggering the back-up diesel-powered generators. Beyond Alabama, storm and tornado related deaths have been reported in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and Kentucky, with power outages and displacement affecting hundreds of thousands throughout the region. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the average number of tornadoes in April over the past decade has been 160. This April brought over 600, with the potential for an even larger count in the month of May. President Obama will visit the area beginning today in Alabama, which he declared a disaster site yesterday, eligible for federal aid.

GUEST: Brenda Ekwurzel, climate scientist with the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Her expertise is global warming-science and its impact.

Find out more at www.ucsusa.org.

One response so far

One Response to “Extreme Weather in U.S. Linked to Global Warming”

  1. Steven Goddardon 29 Apr 2011 at 9:38 pm

    NOAA has made it quite clear that the tornadoes are not linked to global warming. Why are you misrepresenting the science?

    “Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said warming trends do create more of the fuel that tornadoes require, such as moisture, but that they also deprive tornadoes of another essential ingredient: wind shear.

    “We know we have a warming going on,” Carbin told Fox News in an interview Thursday, but added: “There really is no scientific consensus or connection [between global warming and tornadic activity]….Jumping from a large-scale event like global warming to relatively small-scale events like tornadoes is a huge leap across a variety of scales.”

    Asked if climate change should be “acquitted” in a jury trial where it stood charged with responsibility for tornadoes, Carbin replied: “I would say that is the right verdict, yes.” Because there is no direct connection as yet established between the two? “That’s correct,” Carbin replied.”